My dear friends,
Lent begins in just a few days and I have been pondering for some time what I should do this Lent. I have been asking myself the questions, “What is keeping me from deepening my relationship with Jesus? What is causing me to harden my heart and turn to the idols of the world instead of to Jesus?” I have been especially placing myself before Jesus asking Him the question, “How can I love You better?” Although Lent is a difficult time of pruning I am thankful for this liturgical season and all that God fosters within me.
One thing that has really stood out to me is the amount of time I waste on my phone and computer. It seems that there is this intense pull to go online each day whether it be for 15 minutes or an hour or even longer! How often do I find myself wondering where my time went? How often do I say that I wish I had more time for prayer or exercise or cleaning or reading or journaling, yet it is so easy for me to spend an hour or so on technology. When I can easily spend an hour online, but have not spent an hour with Jesus in Adoration or prayer first, then I truly do need to reevaluate my use of time. It seems that this is what the Lord has been placing on my heart to give up this year for Lent, my time wasted on technology.
Thankfully I am not looking up immoral things, but this misuse of my time is keeping me from loving Jesus and my family better and more deeply. I have also noticed that especially social media has led me to fall into the trap of materialism and envy as well. I often see posts for a new product launch (usually of a Catholic-related product), someone’s beautifully decorated home, someone’s lovely outfit, a cute baby outfit, etc. I then find myself desiring something that I never even needed in the first place! What a trap this can become! I read a quote recently that really got me thinking about my usage of time. “We must not even desire that our pilgrimage on this earth be a short one because we do not yet know the infinite value of every minute employed for the glory of God. Carry your cross then but carry it joyfully, my daughter. Think that Jesus loves you very much. And in return for such love, don’t lose yourself in so many desires, but accept daily with serenity whatever comes your way. May the heart of Jesus bless you and make you holy not as you want but as He desires” St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Woah. This will definitely be a quote I will be taking with me into this Lenten season.
It may be difficult, but this Lent I will be giving up most things phone and computer related. I will be continuing to post on my blog, which I feel I have actually not had time to write recently due to other distractions. I am also planning to post on my blog only after I journal my thoughts first. I have also decided that before I do anything that requires the use of technology I first plan to spend time in prayer. I plan to reflect on the time God is graciously giving to me each day and what I can use my time for instead of technology use. Frankly instead of staring at a screen I could use this time for prayer, fostering relationships with those I have been wanting to meet up with more, sending mail to those who don’t live near me, calling friends who I have not caught up with in a while, reading more books, getting more sleep (as I try to do everything technology related in the evenings), being genuinely present with my husband and daughter, cooking more recipes that I have been wanting to try, and reflecting more. I also think that there will be less comparing, feeling inadequate, or desiring to have something I don’t actually need.
I look forward to seeing how God will work through this sacrifice of mine. If you feel that God is calling you to do the same I encourage you to join me! Feel free to reach out too so we can cheer one another on.
Here are a few additional ideas I have for this Lent:
Along with my current prayer routine I plan to…
Visit Jesus in the Eucharist everyday and re-sign up for a Holy Hour! After my daughter was born I had to cancel my scheduled Holy Hour, but I do desire to have a set time each week to spend one hour with Jesus in the Eucharist. I have still been spending time in Adoration, but it has been unsteady and sporadic. I would love to have a scheduled hour that I sign up for and commit to each week. In addition I plan to have a set time to visit Jesus in the chapel every day of Lent even if my daughter comes with me.
Take more time for meditative prayer. I plan to finish the book Conversation with Christ by Peter Thomas Rohrbach about meditative prayer. If you have never read this book or maybe you want to learn from St. Teresa of Avila about how to incorporate meditative prayer, then I highly recommend this book! I have learned a great amount and benefited very much in my own personal prayer from reading this book.
Every Friday pray the Stations of the Cross using The Way of the Cross at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. This specific Way of the Cross includes meditations taken from the Diary of St. Faustina. Praying the stations of the cross with St. Faustina is so special and powerful. There is a wonderful Divine Mercy app available, which includes this specific way of the cross. Since I am trying to cut my time used on technology I will be using a paper version of this Way of the Cross instead.
Since becoming pregnant with my first child, Gianna, I struggled with the concept of fasting during Lent. If a woman is pregnant or nursing the requirements for fasting are different for her. I had no idea what to do then! I heard this wonderful talk on Lent that greatly encouraged me. The priest said, “If you are pregnant or nursing the rules will be different for you. A lot of the time if you are pregnant or nursing your diet is already regulated by somebody else. You have to make sacrifices in food and drink anyway. Nevertheless you can offer those as penances. You can embrace those. Maybe not the quantity of the food so much as the quality. Even there you can tweak it a little bit to make things maybe a little more unpalatable.” So instead of fasting as I would have before becoming pregnant I have decided to pick a certain food that I will be giving up for the entirety of Lent. A food that will not affect my health or my baby growing within me. I will probably take some opportunities to make my meals more unpalatable, like eating healthy foods I have pregnancy aversions to (i.e. salads without dressing).
I read a story about Bl. Chiara Badano recently that really impacted me. Here is what I read: “On another occasion, Maria Teresa, [Chiara’s mother] seeing that there were perhaps too many toys in Chiara’s room, invited her to give some of them to the poor children. Chiara said no, that they were her toys. Maria Teresa left her, but almost immediately she heard a noise coming from Chiara’s room. She stood outside the door and listened: ‘This one yes, that one no. This one yes…’ When Maria Teresa pushed open the door, there was Chiara selecting which toys to give away and which to keep. When her mother asked her how she made the selection, Chiara replied: ‘I can’t give broken toys to children who don’t have any.’” I will be reflecting upon this quote when it comes to my almsgiving this Lent. I hope to give away things that I like and not just things I don’t want anymore.
The Seven Last Words by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Each last saying is broken up by chapter in this book. Every Friday of Lent I read one of the last sayings that Jesus said from the cross. Fulton Sheen is one of my favorite writers and his writings in The Seven Last Words constantly blow me away. The book is small and the chapters are very short, but it is deeply profound.
Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Father Jacques Philippe. I read this book for a class in college, but unfortunately I do not remember much from it. I have been wanting to reread it though. Since I listen to the Abiding Together podcast and they are using this book for a Lenten book study I decided Lent would be a good time to read it again. It is a short book and the Abiding Together hosts have broken the book up into sections to follow along with.
Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time now. I got it when I was in college, but never got around to reading it. After college I packed it away and now it is somewhere in storage at my parents house (meaning I never re-ordered it or borrowed it from a friend). I have heard so many wonderful things about this book for quite some time though. I am laughing at myself because I created a must-read book list this year and the Lord has had completely different plans for what He wants me to read. This book has been coming up often and it seems that God has placed this desire within my heart to finally read it this Lent.
A talk on Lent called Growing in Virtue by Small, Sustained Mortifications is a wonderful talk to listen to in preparation for Lent. I now listen to it every year before Lent. I highly encourage you to listen to it as well!
May the Lord till the soil of our souls making us fertile so that we would bear much fruit!