It's the most grueling, hard, peaceful, challenging, and faith boosting time of the year for Catholics. We are supposed to give up something meaningful, but it mostly ends up with us being selfish and brushing off the promise as quick as you can say "Easter."
I bet you know what I'm talking about, but incase you don't the answer is... Lent.
Yay, party! :)
When I was younger, Lent was probably on the bottom of my "Favorite Spiritual Times of the Year" list, probably because I had to give up candy, and some electronics, and stuff like that. I really didn't like how everything looked and felt sad. I just wanted some bright colors and the Easter bunny! :) But now since I'm older, I have really thought about Lent and what it means.
Lent literally means "spring" or "springtide". According to www.catholicism.about.com:
"Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday and one of the major liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church. A penitential season marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and almsgiving."
Lent is probably the most important Church season, despite many younger kids thoughts about Christmas. :) For me, now anyways, Lent is the period of time when people can look back on their wrongdoings, repent, and find a way to make it up.
And as you already now, we give something up. Whether it be an addiction, bad habit, or something that you do everyday, you choose a sacrifice to give up to Jesus. Sometimes it really makes me sad how people put this part of Lent on the backburner.
"Oh sure, yeah, I'll give up... chocolate. Yeah, chocolate." You didn't even think about it. The first thing that popped into your mind was chocolate and since it is already Ash Wednesday, you have to go with it. There's no turning back now...
Lie. The next day you're gorging on your mother's chocolate cake.
Lenten Tip #1:
Think about what you will give up. You need something that will really make you feel the pain. (Not literally :) ) You need something that you will actually miss. It needs to be hard, that's the purpose! Whenever you are needing a little push, just think about what Jesus had to go through. I bet you would rather be nice to your siblings for 40 days rather than be nailed to a cross. Be realistic though! You can always start small and go bigger.
Here are some cool (and crazy) ideas that will really get you thinking.
1. Give up your bed.
2. Give up your pillow.
3. Give up sweets/junk food.
4. Give up electronics (or just one electronic)
5. Give up certain TV shows that you are addicted to.
6. Give up certain apps.
7. Go to one extra Mass every week.
8. Go to confession one time more than you usually do.
9. Take 5-10 minutes each day to reflect on the scriptures.
10. Put a popcorn kernel in your shoe and walk on it all day. (crazy!)
11. Right when your alarm rings, get out of your bed instead of laying there for 10 minutes.
12. Leave encouraging sticky notes in the bathroom, lockers, or anywhere else where someone could see it. (Don't leave too much!)
13. Say the Hail Mary, and do a crunch (or any other excessive) to every separate word.
14. Get some of your peers and head on down to the church.
15. Go to Eucharistic Adoration or Stations of the Cross once a week.
Also, remember it is always good to take up as well as give up. I would suggest picking one thing to give up, and one thing to take up. Go to a private school with a church attached? (or in it?) What a better Lenten promise then to gather a few of your friends and have a little faith group during Lent! All you got to do is invited people, bring your Bible, and then pray with them. It is a good way to help your peers through Lent, and hey! You'll get help in return! (it's a win win :) )
Tonight, ponder about your Lenten promise. First off, think is it realistic? Can I actually go through with this? But also think is it big enough to serve as a challenge? You want it to be hard enough for it to be a challenge, but not too hard to be impossible.
I hope you have enjoyed the first installment in my Lenten series! :) If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or just want to say hi, please don't be afraid to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Have a wonderful Lent! :)
All through Christ,
*"Some, though not all penances taken from http://lifeteen.com/weird-lent-ideas-that-will-make-you-holier/"
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here