Open thread: Lenten practice

What are you planning on giving up or adding to your life for Lent this year? What’s been helpful or not helpful for you in the past?

Any good books / CDs / online retreats to recommend, or new prayer practices you’re excited to try?

How about this one: are you clinging to the last few days of Ordinary Time, or can’t wait to begin your Lenten journey this year?

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7 thoughts on “Open thread: Lenten practice

  1. I’m clinging to Ordinary Time this year. I am really hesitant to begin Lent. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve been in introspective and grief mode for most of this quarter. I have also tried to commemorate the suffering of Imam Husayn and his companions during Muharram and Safer. Add to that the massacre in Gaza, people’s stress around me, and the economy and I go — “no more!” I am hesitant because I don’t want a clear message that Easter is the end. I’m too much of a Lenten person to know that Jesus heals all through Easter, that it is all happy.

    I must say, though: i have been getting excited this week. Lent is my favorite time of the year!

    For Lent: I do the Liturgy of the Hours along with the rest of my prayers. I also do a bit more spiritual reading. My goal this Lent is to ACT on my ideas more, not just percolate about them. And journal more. I also want to go to the sauna more.

    What has worked: When I’ve added things that were a bit of a stretch, but tangible to add. When I wasn’t a practicing Catholic, Lent was enough pull that I would sometimes go to Ash Wednesday services.

    What hasn’t worked: When I guilt myself for making a mistake and not sticking to something. When I give up something that is hard to give up (like coffee). When I don’t recognize that mistakes are part of the Lenten journey, not just spiritual piety. When I recognize that everyone else is trying to figure it out, too.

  2. I’m also clinging to ordinary time. I’ve been through a lot of transitions these last couple years, and I think a part of me feels that I’ve given up “enough.” But I think the centering that comes with Lent will be good for me, too. It’s also a time of the year that I usually really enjoy–the chance to be more reflective and intentional. I’ve added daily rosary, daily Bible / spiritual reading, spiritual journaling, and more communal prayer to my life in Lents of the past, and I’ve found that adding something to Lent is definitely harder than getting rid of something. I think I’m going to try to curb unnecessary spending this lent, care for my body again (i.e.: exercise), and maybe finally get around to reading some St. Augustine.

  3. I love Lent. While “excitement” isn’t the proper word for how I feel about the beginning to the season, it is always the perfect antidote to how I feel in February: stressed, frenetic, and unsure. Lent is a time that always re-centers me, from ashes to resurrection, and returns my focus and priorities to their proper place.

    For Lent, I hope to carve out more quiet time with God, more writing in my journal, and letting go of hurt and resentment. I’m also planning on rereading Dark Night of the Soul, by Gerald May.

  4. I have been praying/thinking about this all morning here. And it just came to me!
    This year I am going to give up using plastic, as a concrete way to live more simply and conscious of how my actions effect God’s creation and my own health. I expect it will limit what I can consume in our society, how I carry things, what I buy, what I eat. Paying attention to this one material shall increase my awareness, I expect.
    And, I always try to do one deep spiritual action to renew and revive my prayer life and love of God. This year I am going to write God a love letter everyday. This should help get me ready for those big vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience that are quickly approaching..

    May God bless all of us and our intentions!

  5. I like how Lent does force us to reevaluate things a bit, or quite a lot, depending on the year.

    Before the 2008 elections, I really almost never watched TV. (Well, if my roommates were watching America’s Next Top Model or Grey’s Anatomy…). But then I got ridiculously addicted. I also got enormously addicted to political blogs. Really not helpful on many levels. So one of the things I will do for Lent is to get back to watching no TV, and only using the internet at home for much more moderate use to keep in touch with friends (and of course very moderate blogging).

    Also, instead of complaining about my roommate’s leaving dirty dishes in the sink, I’m going to do them, inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, and Ignatius’ teaching that all work can be prayer:

    “To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves
    and that fact that I am here washing them are miracles!”

    • What a great reflection on dishes! I actually find dishes to be one of the more “pleasant” chores myself — the nice warm water IS nice. I cut down on Internet time one year for Lent. I think it might be the thing to do this year. I do almost all my work online, and I find it all to easy to zone out and keep putzing around after the work is done. And then I wonder where all the time goes. ;)

  6. “Happy Fast” one of my Muslim friends wishes me each Lent, and I wish her the same in return each Ramadan. For the past couple of years, I have done the opposite of fasting and added things to my life to enrich my Lent. This year, I have been so over run with activities that I definitely need a fast to create some open space for my relationship with God. I picked up my ‘Operation Rice Bowl’ from my parish this Sunday and am going to commit to it, fasting three to four meals a week and donating the money I would have spent on it. We did this in my family growing up, but I stopped the practice in college when I was on a meal plan and never went back to it. I am also working in 20 minutes, at least, a day for centering prayer. It was one of the things that went out the window when my year got so busy, and oh, do I need that meditation time back. Happy Fast everyone!

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