We are now at the First Sunday of Lent and entering the first full week of this time of preparation and spiritual growth before Holy Week and Easter! If you have not taken some time to consider how you can best grow closer to Jesus with the help of His grace or if you have thought about it, but need more ideas, I offer this weekend several suggestions that can help you this Lent:
1. Make a plan. The best way to grow is to reflect on what you desire or need, talk it over with God and then have a way to put it into action. We need God ‘s grace to move forward with Him – so be sure to talk over with God your plan!
2. Go to daily Holy Mass if you are able. The Real Presence of our good Lord Jesus is the center of our Catholic Faith. Try to be with Him as much as possible!
3. Go to the Sacrament of Confession. This is the Sacrament of Conversion and the Sacrament that brings about wonderful change in the soul. Remember the five elements of a good Confession: A. Examine your conscience; B. Have true contrition for having sinned against God; C. Make a firm resolution to not sin anymore; E. Confess all you sins, particularly mortal sins in number and kind; E. Complete the penance assigned by the priest.
4. Examine you interior life. Our Lord would very much like us to do this on a daily basis – what are my thoughts, feelings and desires - and then share what we find with Him. We also need to look for our faults. In what areas of one life is the heart resistant to the Will of God or the teachings of the His Catholic Church?
5. Pray more (if possible in the Church with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist) and pray with a greater conviction of God’s personal love for you. We all have need for more contact with God, especially with how busy we let our lives become. The Holy Rosary is a great prayer to bring us closer to Jesus through Mary. Take time to practice the four core habits of prayer: Acknowledge (in oneself-thoughts, feelings, desires), Relate what is in the soul to God; Receive from God what He wills to communicate to you; Respond to what God shares with you.
6. Fast from not only food, but anything that takes one away from awareness of God’s presence. Is to much ‘facebook’ or the internet? Is it television programs or video games? Is it a habit of negativity or a critical tongue? Whatever tends to take you attention off of God during the day, try to fast from it.
7. Give alms. The ancient practice is not only sustains the Church and helps those who have less than we do. It also expands our souls to love God and our neighbor more. The sacrifice of alms giving helps us become more like God, who has given us all good things in life, including our time, talents and financial resources!
8. Read a good book. Our minds and hearts need to be nourished with Love and Truth, who is God. This Lent read a good spiritual book.
9. Apologize to someone you have offended and forgive others. Who needs to hear you say that you are sorry for what you have done. Think about it and really mean it when you say it. Let go of what the other may say when you apologize. You cannot control that. Then ask: with whom are you angry? Forgive and let go of the debt of the lack of charity in that relationship.
10. Volunteer for God. What are you doing to build up the Kingdom of God? When was the last time you asked yourself this question? God delights in our working with Him to build up His Church on earth. If you want to know ways to get involved, ask your pastor!
Let us try some or, better yet, all of these 10 suggestions and then have the best Lent yet!
Through the intercession of the Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God’s blessing come upon us, our Archdiocese, and the whole Church!