Each year you give us this joyful season – says one of the prayers at Mass in Lent. Really, joyful?
Well, for many people Lent seems to be about giving up chocolate, gin or bacon sandwiches. Many Christians try a little more than that and make an effort to give up eating so much meat. This can all seem rather heavy going, inward looking and just a little in danger of suggesting that God is a bit of a grumpy old soul, or at least of making Lent a sombre and rather depressing season.
Let’s think again. Let it be a joyful season. After all Lent is about getting ready for Easter – preparing for the great feast. That needs focus, and it means getting priorities right. That may mean ‘giving up’ some things that distract us, or get in the way, but it also means looking forward joyfully to what is to come.
So as Lent approaches, and begins, a priority is to do a little looking at our lives – a little spring cleaning.
Our Church has helpful times of worship, meeting and prayer to help us in Lent. Think about which you will take part in.
We can do this by examining our lives – examining our consciences and seeing if we need to alter our priorities and turn in a new direction. This website has some simple, direct questions which are useful to think over as lent begins. In the days of Lent (and beyond) it’s good at the end of the day to review the day, and to pray. The Examen, a simple prayer exercise can be helpful. (Click here for an audio introduction to the Examen).
And then why not think ‘outside the box’ and make up your own ideas for Lent, and write them down.
Some suggestions (drawn from this website). During Lent: Only buy things you really need, collect 40 things in the 40 days which you no longer need and give them to a charity shop, every day say three nice things to a partner, friend, child or coworker, no eating between meals, be positive – don’t gossip. (The website gives more great suggestions).
Try it – have a joyful – an awesome Lent!