I don’t know about you, but my standard Lenten M.O. is to bust out of the gate guns blazing, ready to immerse myself in the three pillars. I have a plan of action. A way to move forward. A desire to burn away my transgressions and love the Lord with all my heart and soul.
Oh, but Lent. Lent is long. Lent is hard. And by the time I get about halfway through this season of renewal and repentance, I’m about as gung-ho as last year’s Peeps, rock-hard and desiccated in the forgotten wasteland of my pantry.
It is not a pretty picture.
Not a pretty picture at all.
For those of us stranded in this unyielding desert, I think it’s only natural to wonder how we arrived. It’s simple, really, and boils down to our expectations: rather than follow a Little Way to Jesus, we view the season as a time to go big or go home. A few missteps start a landslide of self-deprecation, and before we know it we’re cowering in the closet mainlining Oreo contraband. While we might be staring down the last of the Lenten season with the temptation to throw in the proverbial towel, it’s not too late to correct our course.
3 Simple Ways to Renew Your Lenten Season
Go to Daily Mass – Once
When my second child was an infant, I had the grand idea that I’d take the kids to daily mass every day during Lent. It was a grand disaster and a sacrifice I abandoned quickly, writing it off as an impossible effort during that season of my life.
But what if I had lowered my expectations? What if I had made the decision to go just once? I could have been flexible and achieved that endeavor, then felt energized to try it once more.
Give Up Something New Thing Each Day
Sacrifice is an important part of Lent, for sure, but there’s no law that says one particular penance must last all 40 days. A holy priest at my parish once suggested taking on a daily sacrifice, selecting a new opportunity for grace each morning.
Some might consider this approach a sign of weakness, but I think it’s a beautiful way to honor the season of Lent. It gives us an opportunity to acknowledge a variety of areas in which we tend toward excess and opens up little doorways to sacrificial success.
Wake Up Five Minutes Early for Dedicated Prayer Time
Our days are hectic. We have jobs, kids, household responsibilities – all good and holy vocations that keep us busy but can wreak havoc on our efforts to pray.
What if you got up five minutes early? What could you do in those moments of quiet peace? A few decades of the rosary? A Divine Mercy Chaplet? The Litany of Humility, perhaps? No matter how much we might long for the contemplative life, it’s not always possible to devote hours of our day to dedicated prayer. Five minutes is a start – and it’s doable. You can always move forward from there.
When you’re trapped in the doldrums of a thwarted Lenten season, don’t give up hope or despair.
You may rue the dissolution of your plans for the season, but the truth is – God’s grace is still there, waiting for you to accept it with a humble and contrite heart. Little steps toward holiness are still steps – remember the tortoise and the hare? You’ll get to the end of the race with patience and perseverance.
He is waiting for you with open arms.