As we entered the Lenten season, I decided it wouldn’t be enough to just ‘give up’ something, so I made a list of 40 tasks I needed to ‘offer up’ and complete during this time of penance and preparation.
Many of the items on the list are focused on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and many of them are specific items of service and sacrifice. Some items are one-time requirements, while others must be completed each day, but each item gives me the opportunity to reflect on our Lord’s sacrifice and prepare for the celebration of His resurrection.
We’re only half-way though the Lenten season so there’s plenty of time for you to create your own list if you so desire.
I am not going to delve into each specific item on my list, because it’s my own personal list of service and penance, but here are some ideas if you are thinking of making your own list.
• Devote more time each day to prayer. More prayer never hurts.
• Add specific prayers to your day. Pray for others, pray for your priest.
• Catch up on some reading. When was the last time you read a good book?
• When was the last time you read THE good book? Read from the prophets.
• Complete a task you keep putting off. Clean the yard, build that shed.
• Wash the car, wash the dog. Think of that dirt as your own sins.
• Help someone before they ask for help. Be a service to someone.
• Give someone your time. Devoting time is a good form of almsgiving.
• Spend the day with someone, help at a soup kitchen.
• Do something you’ve never done before. Step out of your comfort zone for once.
• Christ certainly wasn’t comfortable carrying his cross, was He?
The important part is making a list of specific items that relate to you, your family, and your life. No matter how simple or complicated they may be, each item on your list should give you the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and focus on your penance for your sins.
Making a list like this may not be for everyone, but it’s been quite an eye opener for me. May your Lenten journey bring you to a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
God of Mercy and Understanding, I know that with help I can open my heart more fully to the mysteries of the suffering and death of your son. Help me to be humble in this journey and remember that any mercy and compassion I feel is a gift from you. I await the joy of Easter with new longing and patience.