You Can Do Lent

Day two of sugar withdrawal is going well. How about I use these under-fueled brain cells to put together my annual ambitious Lenten plans post? There’s nothing too crazy this year; it’s actually pretty much the same as last year. I even made a video with some ideas for people who wonder why they should observe Lent this year, when Lent 2020 never really ended.

I made the video for my Accepting the Gift Facebook Group, but thought it might be useful for more than just special needs parents. My overall point is this: you will always be able to find a reason to not “do” Lent. Even before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for people to share on social media how they couldn’t give up or do anything else for Lent because of some other situation. And these people were facing real hardships. However, when you look at what the church actually requires you to do, and consider She has created these requirements for Catholics all over the world regardless of circumstances, you can see that no matter what- war, peace, plague, pestilence, prosperity, whatever!- you can usually meet the bare minimums and in fact do a bit more. Lent is in fact, quite “doable” for any and everyone.

Lent isn’t optional, but it’s also not up to us to reinvent some spectacular spiritual experience every year (thank goodness). The suffering in your daily life is one cross. You can use Lent to maybe help accept it without complaint, but you can’t shake off Lent altogether. In fact maybe Lent is exactly what you need when things seem at their lowest. Maybe the effort you put into Lent when things seem so hard will benefit you more than a Lent carefully crafted from your ideal view of how the season “should be”.

God isn’t asking you to do all the devotionals and crafts. You don’t need to give up sweets, alcohol, or observe some strict diet (unless you’re Eastern Rite). And if you want to stay on social media, you can do that too. You simply have to follow the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence (check them here) and try to take on a bit more in the prayer and almsgiving departments. Anything above your normal prayer and almsgiving counts…anything! It’s not all or nothing.

What I also mention in the talk is working on Lent as a family. Certainly we all have our own sins we can work on individually, but by sharing sacrifices together, we can bear one another’s burdens and the struggle, while still a challenge, is manageable.

I know we’re all tired for a variety of reasons. We are all doing what feels like too much yet also feeling like we’re falling short. We all still need to enter into Lent. Whatever we can do will be enough, so long as we’re trying to do more than what we usually do. Put down the lengthy devotionals, unsubscribe from the daily email meditations, hide the play dough and glitter and get back to the basics of Lent without guilt.

So those are my random thoughts on Lent this year. (I’ve written in this same vein before.) As always your comments are welcome. You can also link up your own Lent themed Takes below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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6 Comments

    1. Curious to know if Episcopals have any requirements for Lent? Or is it simply encouraged? I am disappointed I can’t suggest my usual hair shirt penance to you. 😉

      1. The answer is “yes and no”. We are urged to observe a holy Lent during the service on Ash Wednesday, but we aren’t told specifically what that has to entail in terms of fasting/abstinence. (I actually looked in the Book of Common Prayer and couldn’t find anything either way on the subject.)

        Traditionally, many people fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and a lot of people abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays. People also do give things up or take things on. I’m not giving anything up this year, but I go meatless on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, as well as all of the Lenten Fridays as a personal rule. I’m absolved from fasting because of health, but I don’t eat between 12 and 3 on Good Friday.

  1. I’m Eastern Rite and the bare minimum isn’t too hard. (No meat on Wednesdays or Fridays and no meat, eggs, or dairy on Pure Monday, and Good Friday). It can be a little lonely feeling when everyone else is still Mardi Gras-ing and I’m on day two of Lent (Byzantine Lent is two days longer), and we don’t do ashes.
    Probably the hardest thing is making sure I don’t have too many meat dish leftovers on Tuesday, I usually take leftovers for lunches and I don’t want them to go bad before they can be ate up.

    I’m trying to read a section a day of “The Way” by St. Josemaria for Lent this year and I already missed a day! But it’s early, still time to try and make it up and get back on schedule!

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