The fast pace of your life may seem to leave little time and energy for the traditional Lenten practices. But you can weave moments of spiritual awareness and service into even the busiest of schedules. The trick is to see Lenten practice as part of, rather than in addition to, each activity of your ordinary hectic day.
The three foundational practices of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Here’s how to think about them in a new way:
If you make a habit of saying a little prayer whenever someone irritates you, cuts you off in traffic, or makes life difficult; when someone does you a favor, you experience great and friendly service, or when something joyful happens to you—you will soon find yourself praying your way through the day. Try this simple practice and you will be observing the Catholic Church’s call for greater prayer during the Lenten season. You will also find that this habit makes your life flow smoother, your self more centered, and your Spirit more aware of God’s presence.
There are many ways to fast. Why not fast from criticism, gossip, judging others, or passing on rumors? Why not abstain from unwarranted fear and anxiety? You can also tell that inner voice inside your head that criticizes you to abstain from eroding your ability to be the confident, blessed person God calls you to be. These are beautiful ways to observe the Lenten call to fasting and abstinence. In the book, Praying Lent, the authors offer suggestions on different ways to fast during Lent.
Daily life also offers countless opportunities to give of yourself to others (alms), and most don’t involve dipping into your wallet. Give encouragement to the doubting, give a word of praise to the insecure, show kindness to someone who could use a friend, and offer a word of thanks to those whose service of others often goes unappreciated. Give the gift of your attention to someone who simply wants to be noticed. Tell your children stories about people whose values you admire when you gather at mealtime. Don’t be stingy with your smiles—give them freely to everyone you meet. And most important, give your love to those close to you. Hug them, hold them, and tell them what they mean to you. In this way you open your heart to God and others.
So no matter how busy your are in life, with some greater awareness and new perspectives you can consciously pray, fast, and give of yourself this Lent—and you will be ready to celebrate when a joyful dawn breaks upon you Easter morning.