Lenten practices for growth

Carly Boens (TheLorian)

Every year with the start of Lent, many Catholics establish new goals to give to others, vow to abstain from certain habits, and pray more. Almsgiving, fasting, and prayer help us grow individually and in our faith. In order to ready ourselves for Easter, these forms of spiritual growth prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with gratitude and an open heart. We are meant to strip our lives down until we can view what is necessary and God-given in our lives, building a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have. Establishing Lenten practices, however, can be a challenge. At times, it can be difficult to form meaningful and beneficial goals that will help us grow throughout the entire forty days of Lent.

Spiritually, there are numerous things we can do to deepen our connection to God and strengthen our faith. Simply committing to attend mass more frequently is a great way to grow throughout Lent. Although life is busy, attending mass weekly is attainable for most. Additionally, adding weekly adoration is a great way to have more time carved out for God. Taking time to pray and sit in silence is a great way to reflect on the progress of our Lenten journeys. Going to the sacrament of Reconciliation, especially if you usually don’t, is a perfect way to grow during Lent. Simply adding extra time for prayer every day is an attainable way to grow closer to God and build better spiritual habits.

If you would rather focus on adding things to your life rather than removing things, there are options that are beneficial on an individual level that can also promote spiritual growth. In order to connect more with the people in your life, you could opt to write weekly letters, make daily calls to loved ones, or simply make a point to reach out more to others. Affirming those we love not only helps us express gratitude, but helps build connections with everyone around us. Taking the time daily to meditate, enjoy nature, or be present with those around us has a similar positive effect on ourselves and others, and only requires our time.

To fulfill the call for abstinence during Lent, it is important to evaluate the things in our lives that fail to add to our sense of gratitude, spirituality, and personal growth. Cutting out habits that fail to build us up emphasizes the purpose of Lent. Reducing time spent on social media, cutting out favorite foods or snacks, limiting caffeine, or changing your spending habits are all tangible ways to give things up for Lent. On a less concrete note, making an effort to gossip less and spread more positivity can help improve our relations with others and alter the way we judge individuals. On a similar note, actively avoiding complaining and making negative comments can help build gratitude as well as help form healthier, positive habits. Lent is a time of growth that allows us to reevaluate our faith, and ourselves, and there are many ways that physically and spiritually rewarding goals can be instilled and followed.

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