Dear friends in Christ:
We Americans are action-oriented. Give us a task, we’ll get it done. Our spiritual lives can be transformed through concrete tasks or what we might call “spiritual exercises,” which are just like regular exercises at the gym or club. Do something each day to transform your soul.
Lent is an ideal time for spiritual transformation, a 40-day time to take something on and give something up. Daily spiritual practices build strong Christians as they transform us from the inside out, shape our character and strengthen our faith.
Choose one or more of the following spiritual practices:
1. Attend church each Sunday in Lent even when you are out of town. If you miss morning worship, attend our Compline Service at 5 p.m. each Sunday. Take a full day to rest in God, turn off electronics, read, walk, nap, cook a good meal and savor time with friends, family and God. You will wonder why you aren’t doing this each Sunday.
3. Read a portion of the New Testament slowly, prayerfully for 15-minutes each day, absorbing the spiritual messages and letting go of what doesn’t speak to you.
4. Attend our “Listen with the Ear of Your Heart” Benedictine Retreat on Saturday, March 30 led by our Rector, who has studied Benedictine spirituality extensively.
5. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day to pray. Mary Cattan and our clergy would be honored to meet and discuss with you. Prayer is like mindfulness, only better.
6. Select three people to pray for and one trait to pray for each day, asking God to help you develop more faith, kindness, integrity, self-control, patience, compassion or humility.
7. Purchase one devotional book at the Christ Church Bookstore. We suggest authors like: Sr. Joan Chittister, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, Esther de Waal, Margaret Guenther, Martin Smith, Barbara Crafton, Thomas Keating or Basil Pennington.
8. Go and receive confession. It’s awesome! Seriously, you will feel spiritually lighter and unburdened after meeting with a priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
9. Learn to say grace together as a family each night before dinner. It will help you savor each meal and add peace, substance and gratitude.
10. Call or write a letter or send a card each day to a friend or family member with whom you have not been in regular touch. Resurrect 40 relationships by Easter.
11. Give alms throughout Lent. Carry around lots of $1 bills and distribute them to those in need or make a special contribution to the church to care for the poor.
12. Tithe for Lent (give 10% of what you earn each day to God) for 40 days. It will transform your life and things will happen in your life that you never expected.
Things to consider giving up:
1. Look at what becomes between you and other people. Chances are, it’s also a problem between you and God. Is it your phone? TV? Facebook? Let it go for 40 days.
2. Simplify your life and your home by collecting and donating forty items over forty days. Each day remove one item from your closet or home and give it away.
3. Fast throughout Lent. Skip one meal each day or eat lightly at all meals. Do it for spiritual reasons, not as a diet, but you will be rewarded by greater clarity in prayer and ability to sense God’s voice and call in your life. You will be happier and healthier.
4. Give up alcohol for Lent. If you cannot give it up for 40 days, you probably should give it up for life.
5. Fast from gossiping. Perhaps your tongue is more dangerous than you think.
6. Give up going to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts each day for coffee, save the money and give it to God or to a charitable cause at the end of Lent.
7. Fast from complaining and criticizing. The average parent criticizes a child 25 times a day before they get to school. Fast from negative words and criticisms.
8. Give up dessert for Lent. It’s a small thing to do, but will keep you somewhat mindful of Jesus’ temptations in the dessert. Do it for spiritual reasons.
9. Fast electronically, by limiting the time that you spend communicating electronically each day. Reduce how many emails and texts you send. Make more phone calls.
10. Give up luxuries for Lent. Stop shopping online. More than half of the 1.2 billion people in India live on less than $2 a day.
11. Give up watching television for Lent. Read a book. Have a conversation. Give your mind and spirit a break from the almighty screen.
12. Fast from social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Tumblr) for Lent. Go cold turkey on one of these.
13. Participate in a carbon fast for Lent by reducing your environmental footprint and reducing energy and water usage, waste and travel. To learn more, visit The Carbon Fast for Lent or The Green Anglicans.
With prayers and blessings,