Lent is a time of self-denial, spiritual reflection, renewed commitment, self- examination, sacrifice and a time of intentional consideration of the things Jesus taught. During lent we are invited to assess our desires, examine our motives, and adjust our priorities. Lent is for life – the life that Jesus came to give – life that is full of mercy and love and justice and compassion. Lent is a spiritual exercise that can assist us in learning to practice the kind of life that Jesus came to model and teach – the kind of life that will allow the coming of the Kingdom of God to earth.
Here are some creative ideas for observing Lent that I found around the net:
The following ideas about giving up something for a greater good came from http://www.austindiocese.org/newsletter_article_view.php?id=1224
Let’s give up looking for a pat on the back. This Lent, let’s do at least one thing each day for someone who will never be able to repay us. When we get good at that, we can try doing something each day for someone who will never even be able to thank us.
Let’s give up trying to one-up others. There’s a Hindu proverb that goes like this: “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility comes from being superior to your previous self.” Let’s find something we can improve about us.
Let’s give up taking care of No. 1. Instead of thinking about how everything and anything impacts us, let’s worry first about how others are going to be affected by proposed new laws, by policies, by trends, by economic shifts and by our own actions and behavior.
Some thoughts on fasting, feasting and almsgiving during lent came from this site http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/feb/09/a-time-of-special-focus/
Kay Murdy of Hacienda Heights, who has a master’s degree in religious studies and writes and teaches about spirituality and prayer, suggests that people fast from certain behaviors and “feast” on others during Lent.
A prayer she uses in one of her workshops about Lent asks people to fast from judging others, bitterness, pessimism, suspicion, idle gossip and unrelenting pressures; and feast on gratitude, patience, forgiveness, optimism, truth and purposeful silence.
The alms-giving part of Lent doesn’t mean merely tossing an extra dollar into the Sunday collection.
Catholic theologian and teacher Gabe Huck, former director of Liturgy Training Publications, said alms giving is “the deeds we can do to restore the world to Christ. It is about the wholeness of things and people. It aims to right the wrong distribution caused by greed or power or whatever else. It ignores neither the world nor what is in front of one’s face.”
Some things you might not think of to give up during lent came from http://www.mooreschapel.org/pastor/koo-sermons/sermon-give-up-and-take-up.html
“Give up grumbling! Instead, “In everything give thanks.” Constructive criticism is OK, but “moaning, groaning, and complaining” are not Christian disciplines.
Give up 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study, and personal devotion.
Give up looking at other people’s worst points. Instead concentrate on their best points.
Give up speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?
Give up your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love.
And finally a daily meditation for lent from http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art17607.asp
Begin by sitting with a straight back on a cushion on the floor, your bed or a chair. If you wish, light a candle, burn some incense.
Close your eyes or let them half shut and rest. Clasp your hands in your lap or lay them palms up on your legs.
Begin even and regular breathing such as this: Breathe in for 2 counts; breathe out for 2 counts; breathe in for 2 counts; continue this pattern.
Following a few rounds of even breathing, spend at least 5 minutes thinking what the message of Lent means to you. What can you do for self-improvement these weeks before Easter? What ways can you show more kindness and care?
After a few minutes turn your attention back to even, gentle breathing. Listen to the sound of your breaths. Think about the strength and renewal the ‘unseen’ oxygen gives your body; reflect on the ‘unseen’ spirit of caring love underlying your life.
To conclude your meditation, think of at least one person with appreciation and kindness. Take a deep breath, stretch out – relaxed, renewed.
Daily Prayer for Lent
Lord, may I always remember
To be kind and care.
And ever watchful
For opportunities to share.
Reflecting good with all my might
Inspired by Your holy light!