Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Ten Ways to Put New Life into Lent: These Lenten Practices Can Help Your Spirituality to Blossom This Year. (the Examined Life)

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Ten Ways to Put New Life into Lent: These Lenten Practices Can Help Your Spirituality to Blossom This Year. (the Examined Life)

Article excerpt

HAVE YOU LOST TRACK OF LENT IN RECENT YEARS? Has it lost substance and grit? Here are a few ideas you might consider to help you get more traction along your spiritual path.

1. Become a more knowledgeable Catholic. Many Catholics wish they knew more about their faith. Do something about that. Go to the Internet, listen to tapes, read your parish bulletin or a good book. A great start would be Alice Camille's wonderful new Invitation to Catholicism (ACTA Publications).

2. Let go of one vice. I knew a wise man years ago, Ed Pugh, who had a theory that you could transform your whole self if you simply picked one vice in your life, traced it to its core, and released it. I've come to see the wisdom in his belief that all our vices and virtues are woven together. Improve one, everything improves.

3. Adopt one virtue. Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that simply having the inclination to virtue did us no good unless we acted virtuously. Use it or lose it. If you want to be courageous, act with courage. If you want to develop patience, practice patience. If you want to be generous, make a habit of generosity. What you feed, grows. Put energy and focus into the practice of a virtue this Lent, and it will be with you the rest of your life.

4. Make room for Jesus. For Christians, the essence of holiness is a relationship with Jesus. It may feel awkward, but practice sitting with an open heart before Jesus. "I am with you all days," said Jesus. Take that message to heart.

5. Get to really know one person who is really poor. The world looks very different when you're down and out. So much of American life is geared to the acquiring of more and more stuff, we barely notice the ones who have dropped out of the rat race. If you look around, you will soon find the opportunity to have a conversation with a person who is poor. Do so.

6. Sponsor a student. Stop and think of all the advantages you enjoyed growing up. Rather than thinking of the people above you on the ladder of advantage, think of the millions and millions below you. You can make an enormous difference in the life of a young person, and that good will radiate out throughout all of his or her life. Help a child get through school. Call a local principal or pastor to name one promising student who needs scholarship money. Father Bruce Wellems, C.M.F. works with kids in one of Chicago's most difficult neighborhoods. …

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