Lent is just a matter of weeks away and here are my thoughts on preparing to have a "good" Lent. In a previous entry I mentioned how "Order is good for life. The Church has guided us throughout the liturgical year reminding us to be diligent, inspired, mindful of the things God has done and continues to do for us. The Jewish people of whom our Lord was born into were a people of seasons. They were precise in their in their celebrations, in what was to be done in what period of time and for how long. The secular world follows the calendar year and celebrates specific events on specific days." Lent perhaps more than any other time in the Church year we as Catholics search introspectively to determine our internal spiritual state. If we are examining it in a proper sense what we should find is not pretty. The Church reminds us that we are indeed sinners and that by different means of exercising our spirits (fasting, prayer, alms giving, attending Mass) we will recognize our sinfulness and repent. We journey with Christ to Calvary, knowing that He, perfect and sinless, gives Himself, as a Sacrifice for us, who are sinful and far from perfect. I, who is very far from perfect and a sinner will propose some suggestions on what has been useful to me in Lent through the years. I'm sure others have even better ideas and I would be grateful if you added them in the comments section.
1. Many Churches supply a Lenten guide book. In it it has all the daily scripture readings and perhaps a meditation for the day. I have found them most useful. If you don't have one either go online or the nearest Catholic bookstore and find one. Set a time daily to use it.
2. Attend Mass whenever you can get an opportunity. Daily would be great, but for many of us maybe once during the week is all we can do. (Yes Virginia, I mean in addition to Sunday, duh)
3. Liturgy of the Hours, The Magnificat or daily scripture reading if you are not currently doing so
4. Reconciliation - a good Confession really is good for the soul
5. Volunteer to work in a food bank or a soup kitchen or other charitable work
6. The Stations of the Cross - skip going out and re-live Christ's suffering
7. Try this..I found it to be an excellent exercise... read Part Three from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: LIFE IN CHRIST. Read about 5 pages or so a day... it is wonderful
8. Send a donation to Food for the Poor (just click on the link) or any other good catholic Charity
9. Spend an hour before the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. If your church doesn't have an adoration chapel - find one that does
10. Fast - whenever the time is right but try it at least once or twice during Lent
11. Pray the Rosary in The Sorrowful Mysteries taking time to read the Gospel accounts for The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Way of the Cross, and the Crucifixion
Look at Lent as an opportunity to purify yourself through self denial and good works. Our goal as Catholics is to be in daily conversion, to seek holiness, to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is. Set the bar high as Christ did for us.