What is Lent?
What is lent? Does it have any significance in today’s generation? Is Lenten time also like ordinary time? What is so special about lent? How can I make my lent more meaningful?
If you are trying to find more about these questions, you are at the right place. I have shared my understanding of lent, understanding of lent from the Bible and our traditions. These are my insights on how we can make our lent more prayerful and meaningful this Lenten season.
Lent is an opportunity
Lent is an opportunity for us to make a spiritual inspection/audit of ourselves and cleaning everything that blocks a relationship with Christ. Pope Benedict XVI mentioned lent as an opportunity “to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters (Pope Benedict XVI, 2008).”
So now, we know that lent is a time for us to clear all roadblocks that prevent us from being closer to Christ. It is a time for us to return to the Lord from wherever we are in present situation of life. God’s mercy is limitless, but many times we fall short of experiencing it due to our lack of faith. We fall short in giving our hearts completely to him, we fall short in surrendering to him so that he can fill us with his unconditional love. But during this time of lent, we are going to rediscover the mercy of God, experience His unconditional love. Indeed, lent is a season of grace.
The verses in Joel 2: 12-13 go as
“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your hearts and your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.”
These are the words from Bible that we will hear in gospel reading (Joel 2:12-18) on Ash Wednesday (Traditionally season of lent begins by placing blessed ashes on our forehead as sign of our repentance. This day is called as Ash Wednesday). These verses include the three strong pillars of Lent: Fast, Pray & give alms.
So, now we know how we should make this lent more meaningful! Fast, Pray and give Alms.
We know that it is very important to see how we live this Lenten season. The joy of the Risen Lord will depend on how we live out this holy season of Lent.
Now let’s talk about how can we make this lent more meaningful.
Yes, to make this lent more meaningful, we need to follow the three pillars: Fast, Pray & Give Alms.
Many of us follow the laws of abstinence and fasting during this holy Lenten season. If we are fasting its really good. But today I want to bring forward the fasts that we need for present generation. Adding little personal restrictions on the modern-day addictions we have, will be great fasting for our soul to be closer to Christ.
Give up addictions, addictions like social media, fast food, television, internet, porn, fashion etc. If you can’t give up completely at least try to reduce. Like reduce your social media time by 30 minutes, try dressing modestly, avoid fast food at least on weekdays. Reduce your time spent on internet and make use it of it to spend with your family.
Fast from anger, fast from being judgmental, fast from being rude etc. Give up whatever you feel is wrong in you or blocking you from experiencing Christ.
We have heard it since ages that lent is a time of prayer. Yes, indeed lent is the time to pray. Start your day with a prayer, say prayers of thanksgiving, pray for others. Increase the time you spend in prayers for this Lenten season. Attend Holy Mass daily, visit blessed sacrament, attend prayer meetings, do personal prayers, intercede for others.
Make it a point to pray for others, pray for your family and friends. Pray for those whom you hate, try to forgive people. Most importantly forgive yourself from the guilt you are carrying for years. God has forgiven you, accept his forgiveness. Go for confession. Remember the souls, unloved, uncared, sick in your daily prayers. End your day with examination of conscience. Check whether you need to forgive someone, check if you need to spend more time in prayers.
Ponder on God’s word from Bible. Read the Bible. Memorize few Bible verses daily. (If you haven’t subscribed for our daily free bible verses, do subscribe it here) Meditate on verses from bible and pray that the Word of God will serve to transform your heart and your life. If time permits read some holy books, ponder on life of saints. I would recommend these books: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross, Lent and Easter Reflections , The Path to Holiness.
We might feel this is hard, I can’t donate right now, my financial situation is not so good. (Read my article on God doesn’t see our ability.)
Remember, share whatever you have. It can be money, your time, your love or your special gifts. We can see almsgiving as “Acts of Love.”
Give your time to your family, spend time with elders at your home. If you stay away from family, call your parents, call your relatives. Talk to old people in your community. Visit sick people in your parish. Support emotionally to those who have lost hope. Ask forgiveness from people whom you have hurt. Forgive the people whom you have always hated, talk to them. (Read my article about forgiveness)
Give away your favorite book or dress to your sibling. Love starts at home. Only when we can love our own family members, we can love outsiders. Visit old age homes, orphanages, volunteer for social cause. Render your service to others or your Church. And yes donate, if you can donate for good cause. Cook food for hungry, donate books or fees of needy. There are many ways you can give alms.
Your time is precious and in today’s generation more than money people starve for Love. So, share your love and care with people nearby. These simple acts of love will fill someone’s life with everlasting joy.
So, what is lent now? You have the answer and you also know how to make your lent more meaningful. So, let’s not waste the time and grab this opportunity to be closer to Christ.
As an action taker, find an image that will help you to meditate on the passion of Christ. Or try to meditate on the passion of Christ. Pray the stations of the cross. Imagine you are at the foot of cross and pray earnestly. You can follow some readily available prayers online or make your own prayers. Pray from your heart, emptying yourself completely, surrender to Lord.
Heavenly Father, As I begin this Lenten journey, I thank you for this precious time you have given me. I thank you for the opportunity that I have received to turn back from all my false ways and get closer to you.
Dear Father, change my heart, make my heart like an innocent child who trusts completely in you. Make me humble and obedient to your will and to others. Give me your grace to make this Lenten season more meaningful. Grant me grace that I may be a renewed person this Lenten season. Help me to forgive others, to forgive myself from my guilt.
Dear Father, help me to ponder on your mercy, help me to meditate on your words. Let me repent for my sins and focus on Christ who died for my sins on the cross. Help me to get rid of all temptations that block me from you. I want to be your child, your loved one. Lord, help me to be in your love forever amen.
Make a resolution for this Lenten Season.
I pray that this post will be helpful to throw some light on how you can make your lent more meaningful. Let me know in comments your resolution for this lent.