A few weeks ago, when I started praying about what to do for Lent this year, I snuck a peek at the readings for Ash Wednesday. The very first lines of the Old Testament reading resonated with me immediately: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (Joel 2:12-13).
Return to me. Doesn’t that so perfectly sum up what Lent is for? The reason for everything we do during Lent should be about fixing our eyes on the cross–returning to Jesus from places where we’ve strayed, fallen into sin, or been caught up in distractions. It’s not some kind of religious excuse to go on a diet or break a bad habit; it’s a purposeful season of denying our worldly desires in order to grow closer to God and gain even a tiny bit of a greater understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of Easter.
Here is what I’ve committed to for Lent, as well as a few things we plan to do as a family:
1. Fasting from Instagram and Facebook. I was a little bit taken aback when I realized that in the six-ish years I’ve had Instagram and the TWELVE years I’ve had Facebook, the longest I’ve fasted from them has been a weekend (not including vacations when I haven’t been on them much, but not as an intentional fast). Ever since I started blogging, social media has been part of my work in many ways, and I’ve definitely used that as an excuse, maybe more than I should have. This year, I felt a tug on my heart to finally sign off for this season and see what God fills that space with. I honestly have not been perfect at it yet (I haven’t scrolled, but when something like client work has led me to Instagram, I’ve peeked at my notifications a few times–I finally realized I should sign out of my account on my laptop to avoid that temptation!) but I already see some fruits from it and know God is working.
2. Attending daily Mass once a week. This is something I have every intention of making part of our weekly schedule throughout the year, and figured there was no better time to start than Lent.
3. Reading The Story of a Soul, Walk in Her Sandals, and one more spiritual book I haven’t decided on yet–maybe something from this list. If you have any recommendations, let me know!
5. Covering the crucifixes in our home with purple fabric from the Fifth Sunday of Lent until Easter. While I’ve always noticed the “veils” covering these things in churches at the end of Lent, this is the first year we’ll be adopting the practice in our “domestic church,” aka, our house :) But why do it? This post summed the tradition up well!
6. Abstaining from meat on Fridays. This one is something the whole Church is asked to do. From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.”
7. Keeping our home decor simple. This goes along with something I shared a few weeks ago about our goal of living more liturgically–in this case, it means Easter and spring decorations stay packed away until Easter. In this time of penance and reflection, not adding any extra adornments or decorations to our house is a reminder that our celebration is yet to come!
What are you doing for Lent this year?
Loved this simple, but information-packed, guide to a Catholic Lent
Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2018 (very much worth a read, even if you’re not Catholic)
Lenten plans of some wonderful bloggers: Valerie, Emily, Claire
Inspiring podcast episodes about Lent: here and here
This is so interesting, Lisa! I love your faith based posts because they are so insightful for me. I will have to text you about a specific lent question I have :)
Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. Text away! :)
I love this post! I think in lists, and I love this one so much! It sounds like such a beautiful Lent. I do miss seeing you on Instagram (you are such a light)! I am so glad to hear that God is working in your heart through that fast – it inspires me to do that someday soon. Thank you for referencing Finding Philothea, it means so much. Praying for you and your family during this special season!
Thank you so much for your encouragement, Claire! Like I said, I haven’t been perfect at my social media fast, but I’m grateful that God can still work and use us in our imperfections. Thank you for your prayers, and please know of ours too! :)
Also doing the social media thing and daily mass on Fridays. It’s crazy to do mass with Gigi these days so I don’t have high expectations doing it alone with them, but we manage! Thanks for sharing!!
Solidarity! Dave came along to our first Lenten daily Mass but I made it myself for the first time last Friday. Charlie actually did really well! My arms were just tired by the end, ha :) I am hoping for the best for the coming weeks…though this Friday, I’m hoping to go to Confession after and I have no idea how Charlie will feel about that! :P
Haha! I have done confession with the kids a couple times and they both just get really shy for some reason and don’t move too much. It hasnt been bad! Mass Is definitely tiring for sure! I’m sure Charlie is the same but if I put Gigi down she will want to crawl/walk everywhere!
I love no. 7! It goes very well with my personal goal to soak up every season as it happens and not always look ahead to what is to come. I think the celebration of Easter is going to be so much more fun after we have stayed away from festive decor and early Easter treats (looking at you Lindt chocolate eggs) during lent. I will go along side you on this one. Thank you, as always, for the inspiration.
It is so tough, especially with Easter goodies already on store shelves! But I totally agree, it will make Easter feel all the more exciting and special. I think the change in decor will help Charlie better understand that something is going on too, even if he is too young to grasp what it is quite yet. Praying for your Lent!
This is so interesting! I’ve fasted for religious reasons before, and even once during Lent, but since I’m not Catholic (but Christian) I’m always very interested in hearing about the specific practices. Love these posts!
India, thank you so much for your comment! My goal when writing faith posts is definitely to make people feel included and informed, not left out, so I sincerely appreciate that you enjoy them :)
Ian is participating in no meat Friday for the first time and we’re getting ourselves to church on Sunday!
I’m just now reading the whole post, after reading initially about what you were doing for Lent on Instagram. I love all these things you laid out– while we don’t practice most of them in the Christian church (at least the one I go to!) I love learning about what you’re doing and the “why” behind it. After a lot of prayer, I decided to give up shopping for home decor and clothing/shoes for Lent, as I find my heart is so quick to turn to new things and “stuff” in general for happiness or fulfillment. I’m trying to really dig into what Jesus as my Enough looks like. I know he’s my enough in my head, but sometimes my buying decisions and feelings of comparison make my heart feel otherwise. So that’s what I’m doing! It’s already been revealing a lot of good things to me.
I also LOVE what you said about how this is not a time to go on a diet or break a bad habit. So important to distinguish! This is truly about the heart. We give things up so that our eyes are turned to Christ, his sacrifice and hopefully our eyes are opened to our need for a Savior. Thankful you’re sharing your faith in this way, friend!