Ideas for Lent

I am currently a catechumen in the Roman Catholic Church, and with Lent approaching I am considering what I will abstain from during this time. Perhaps we could all discuss what we’re thinking of abstaining from here, and help give ideas to those who do not know yet.

I do not smoke or drink alcohol anymore (as I am pregnant), so those obvious ones are out. Even things like soda and junk food I do not eat very often at all.

I am thinking perhaps swearing will be mine. I admit I do get rather bad sometimes!:blush:

Abstintion is one form for preparing for Easter, another is Addition. Instead of just removing something add something, such as a set of prayers, or attendance in a volunteer program every Saturday. Although you cannot do this being in RCIA, one year I added going to confession every week. It truly focused me on the effort in living to avoid sin, and in retrospect, was perhaps my best Lent ever.
The one thing I always give up is TV. Simply do not use it for TV, videos, CD’s just give it up. I still do this, as I have learned how much time TV consumed in a day/evening. It brings you back to reading the Bible and other Lives of the saint.

Last year for Lent, I gave up complaining about my husband. it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and had a wonderful, unexpected pay-off in our relationship. I also gave up chocolate, soft drinks, and eating between meals. I love chocolate, but it’s not too hard to give it up for Lent. Soft drinks, I can take or leave, but eating between meals…that was tough. I ended up hungry a lot, and would try to remember to offer the hunger for those who were hungering to know God or hungering for reconciliation with God.

One of the best things I ever did was commit to attending Daily Mass 3 mornings a week. I was hooked on that long before Lent was over. Also attending Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings is a good thing.

We should also remember that we fast and abstain from something ‘good’ for the purpose of receiving something better–a closer relationship with God.

While Lent is a time when we commonly give up bad habits, and we should always be working on giving them up!, the purpose isn’t just to be a time of personal improvement in worldly things–eating better, being nice, etc.

We should look to give up a legitimate good (say OJ in the morning) instead of a questionable or down-right bad (that 7th cup of coffee).

When you give up wine with dinner, it shouldn’t be that you really need to be in a 12-step program. The same with sweets–it shouldn’t be that you give them up because your Dr has told you that you are morbidly obese.

What we give up doesn’t also have to be incredibly difficult or excessive. Going without OJ is not mind-blowing, but each morning when I don’t have it, I’ll remember why. Each time I remember and offer that little discomfort to God, I’ll hopefully draw closer and closer to him in love.

Welcome, Renee! Congratulations on entering the Church and on your baby!

If you give up swearing, and you stick with it after Lent, you won’t have the experience I did when my adorable 3-year-old opened her mouth and out came one of my favorite expletives, in exactly my inflection - in front of my mother! :eek:

As you browse around the forums, you’ll find a bunch of good threads on this topic on Spirituality, Back Fence and Family Life also. People have great ideas! You’re gonna love it here!


Every year I try to give up shopping for Lent, specifically cosmetics shopping. However, half-way through, I have all of the fortitude of an ant at a picnic and I come across this I-can’t-bear-to-live-without Bare Escentuals lip shade, eyeshadow or a Laura Geller baked product. AARGH.

So, this time around, I am going to try the addition, additional prayer, acts of kindness and being more charitable. I’ll still try to give up something. I just have to figure out what.

For those of you with a spiritual director here’s something you can try. In the Rule of St. Benedict, traditionally at Lent the abbot assigns each monk a spiritual book to read during Lent.

You could try asking your spiritual director (or in absence of one, your priest) to suggest a good book to read. Your confessor, if you see him regularly, may be able to suggest good books that may be beneficial for whatever sin you struggle with.

May I introduce you to my wife! :slight_smile:

Over the years I have started to add something (one thing positive towards my faith) as well as a penance. I started wearing a head covering to Church, bought a St Joseph’s missal and read it before Mass every Sunday, bring food for the pantry each week, say an Our Father-Hail Mary-Glory Be each morning on my way to work, go out of my way to say hello and smile to strangers I may pass, etc. Penance could be to slow down on the TV, Computer, gossip, etc. I really look forward to Lent each year now. Think of something that would make you a better Catholic. Something for God.

Good advice. :thumbsup:

That idea really appeals to me. I’ll probably still abstain from swearing (I do also mention it because I enjoy it a little too much), but I’ll have to try asking about this one.

I taught a religious education class to 5th graders, and we talked about penance and fasting. I told them that if it doesn’t increase their love, their faith, or their hope, if it isn’t aimed at letting go of things in order to be more at God’s disposal, don’t even bother. “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing…” 1 Cor. 13:3. So start out by thinking of what keeps you from being patient, kind, humble, and so on, and look there. It doesn’t have to be a direct link. Fasting from food, for instance, is considered an aid to chastity, as both concern self-mastery of the bodily passions.

You might want to go on to the internet and look up instances in the Bible where people fasted, too. So many times, when any big mission is approaching or a big problem is faced, there’s fasting and prayer. Jesus did it, Ester, Moses, Paul and Barnabas…those two things always go together. That may help in getting into the spirit of what you’re about by giving something up. If it is something that costs money, so you can throw almsgiving of the money you save onto the top, that is even better.

Forget about Lent. If you don’t break the habit of swearing now, just imagine how wonderful it is going to be hear your language habits parroted by the little angels who have you under surveillance from the back seat of your car. You have to have heard the stories. Well, it can happen to you.

I picked up a habit in graduate school of swearing like a sailor. Before my kids were six months old, I could get cut off in traffic and (this is true, “I swear”) say, “Oooo! That makes me so mad! That man was not safe!!” I am thankful I didn’t have some other things on the tip of my tongue any more.

I used to always be very sharp-tongued, too…“quick-witted”, ha! It was a vicious habit, and it was a good one to break, but it is taking a long time. I still fight it.

Consider giving yourself a swearing jar, $1 per offense, and earmark the proceeds for almsgiving, maybe for a women’s shelter or an organization that helps abused children, both of which can be full of the victims of harsh words as well as physical abuse. But don’t stop when Lent is over.

Welcome. Congratulation of your upcoming Initiation into the Church and motherhood :slight_smile:
Many good ideas here.

This is one in the Back Fence area. If there are others people could maybe put in the links.

Generally in the Eastern tradition, expectant mothers are forbidden to fast or abstain, as they already have their asceticism cut out for them.

Renee I am pregnant as well and I never really did indulge in alcohol and never have smoked so I am trying to find something good too. We’re pregnant so not much in the way of food is expected from us. I am giving up my computer usage for that entire time except when i announce my pregnancy and share ultrasound pics. besides that no use for me.

Congrats on entering the church and on the new baby. I am in RCIA as well. :o

EasterJoy, a very good point. And of course I am reminded of the passage from Corinthians!

I will definitely give this lots of thought, and perhaps this Sunday bring it up during our dismissals, I’m sure the others may have some good ideas as well!