Domestic Church: How to Have a “Successful” Lent

by Katie Sciba

The beginning of Lent feels like the New Year – it’s a clean slate paired with a handful of resolutions and a heart full of hope that this is THE year.  I’m going to stick with my Lenten sacrifices so when Easter shines in 40+ days, I’ll be beaming with Christian radiance and joy in the Resurrection. Every Lent, I start strong and convicted.

And, as with my New Year’s resolutions, in time I fall short of my personal goals for spiritual wellness, justifying a lack of commitment or even forgetting what they are. Thinking back to past Lents and ahead to upcoming Ash Wednesday, I’m considering things more practically, and I’m placing hope in Jesus that he’ll fill the gaps and draw me nearer to him. Put these steps into action for your own heart and Lent so like Jesus you’ll rise Easter morning made new and rejuvenated.

1.  Consult with God
You’re too attached to something; we all are. Maybe it’s the idea of control in your life, maybe it’s your own time, location or possessions, maybe it’s the reasons you have for not growing closer to Jesus. God has called you to a particular mission – what’s getting in the way? Consider offering that to God during this time meant for letting go of what is temporal to gain focus on the spiritual. If you’re unsure, ask Him to reveal exactly what He desires of and for your heart during Lent. What attachment needs to die so you can experience a renewed life during Easter? Ask, too, for the grace to see God’s answer.

2.  Post your sacrifices
…not online for everyone to see, but in your own world for your own benefit. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or inside your coffee cabinet; on the dash in your car or as lock screen on your phone. If you’re reading the Bible or a book of saintly wisdom, keep it in more obvious places so you’ll see it often. Tell a trusted few about your Lenten penance because there is strength in camaraderie.

3.  It’s not about what you give up
Well, not entirely. Lent is a holy invitation to see God clearly by walking away from distractions; and though our part is necessary, it’s Jesus who plays the more active role. Jesus is the one who heals us, who stirs us and who walks with us. Offering things up and ridding ourselves of distraction allows him more space to move in us and through us.

4.  You’re not the only one in the desert
The Lord does not compel His children or call us to do His will, then leave us to do it in our human frailty. Make no mistake, the devil will do his best to draw our attention to ourselves, but like Jesus, we’ll be accompanied by angels and by Christ himself. Jesus always offers grace to help us in what feels difficult or impossible, and because he desires our love and attention, he will uphold us. In the thick of temptation, call on Him for quick aid and grace.

In considering our own bad habits or self-indulgences, it’s common to make Lent about our failings and flaws; to make it about ourselves. Lent, however, is and always has been about the Lord. It’s about drawing strength from Him so we can continue his call for our souls, keeping our eyes focused on him and hearts near heaven.

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