Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lent is one week away!






Lent is one week from today.   Traditionally there are three practices that we do during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. 
Hopefully when next week comes and we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday you will already have resolutions.  I’m writing this just to get you thinking so that you are not scrambling at the last minute trying to come up with a resolution and forgetting to do it or doing something without a lot of thought or reflection. 



So here are some ideas:




Prayer:  
-As Christians we are called to “Pray Daily”.  If you do not spend some time every day in prayer than this could be your resolution.  Make a commitment to spend some time in prayer every day (5, 10, 15 minutes) come “Hell or High Water.” 
-If you need some help with ideas of how, when, and where to pray check out my link: 5 P’s of Prayer http://fathermichaeldenk.blogspot.com/p/5-ps-of-prayer.html
 


This site may give you some ideas too: http://oblatespring.com/oblatespring0651HomeShrines01.htmc
-If you don’t have a place to pray consider creating a place.  Set up a prayer table that you can display some of your sacramentals (Crucifix, Statues, Holy Cards, Rosary, Icon, Candles).  You can check some out here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=prayer+table&x=0&y=0#/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=night+stand&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Anight+stand

Order it today and you’ll have it by “Ash Wednesday”.  You could also spend time building your own prayer table or take the quick way and go pick one up at Wal-Mart or Target.  Ask for Night Stands or End Tables.  Or look around your house and find a spare table that you could set up in a room to create a place to pray. 
When I was a child my father helped me build a bookshelf and I kept it in my closet.  Whenever I wanted to pray I would open up the closet doors and I had my own little shrine that I could kneel and pray before. 
You may also consider a Kneeler or what is known as a “Pie Dieu” http://www.churchsupplywarehouse.com/catalog_categoryItem.asp_Q_categoryId_E_47_A_subcategoryId_E_95_A_Prie_Dieu_Kneelers_E_Prie_Dieu_Kneelers.  They are pretty expensive so you might want to just use a pillowJ 
I think the most difficult part of praying is having a place to go to.  If you have your “Go To” place to pray it is much more likely that you will end up praying.  90% of prayer is just being there. 
If you need some ideas of “What to Pray with” or “How to Pray” Check out the links on the Right Side of my Blog “Online Sacristy”  There are tons of ideas.  http://fathermichaeldenk.blogspot.com/
Also, Read your parish bulletin.  As each parish offers opportunities for prayer during lent including: Stations of the Cross, Penance Services, Parish Missions, and Lenten Days of Reflection. 



Fasting:
An essential part of lent is fasting.  Every Catholic should choose something to Fast or Abstain from.  For 40 days and 40 nights Jesus went to the Desert and fasted.  We are called especially to do this during the Season of Lent.  Try to pick something concrete to “Give up” or “Deny yourself” so as to gain freedom in being able to give yourself more fully to God and allow Jesus to give Himself to you in the emptiness that you may experience from Fasting. 
Here’s some good resources for learning more about fasting: 



Almsgiving:
My absolute favorite program for Lent is Catholic Relief Services “Operation Rice Bowl.”  Most parishes and schools have them.  If yours doesn't you can order them free here: http://crs.org/act/us-materials/itemlist.cfm?cat_id=1
Get a rice bowl for yourself and give them to others that you may know.  It is a great way of Almsgiving because not only will it give you practical, thoughtful and creative ways to do it, but it will also help you be connected with the poor that you are collecting for.  It is both educational and profoundly spiritual. 

My hope is that you will spend some time exploring ideas now so that when Ash Wednesday comes you can make a heartfelt resolution and keep it all through lent. 

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