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.
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