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3 Keys to Opening the Door to a Grace-Filled Lent

Lent is a clarion call to change. It is our opportunity to reject self-satisfaction, and the idea that we are already “good enough” or “not that bad,” and do battle against our triteness, shallowness, and dullness – – all signs of indifferent hearts and minds. 

We can resist our indifference and lukewarmness and CHOOSE to “turn away from sin and live out the Gospel” by embracing the 3 classic practices of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 

But as we develop our Lenten “plan” and make resolutions regarding these 3 pillars of the spiritual life, bear in mind that Lent should be about helping you either begin, or get better at, living the Gospel EACH and EVERY day of our life. 

So how do I pray? How can I bring God into my every moment and each activity that my state of life demands of me? 

What kind of fasting (sacrifice) can I offer?  Although all the faithful are called to abstain from meat on all Fridays of Lent and for those physically able to do so, to also fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but in what other ways can I fast? 

A different way of looking at fasting and sacrifice is to recognize that I can offer God a sacrifice any time that I am confronted with something in my life—be it a person, situation or obligation—that I do not like, did not choose, or cannot change. 

When we accept and embrace our “crosses”–the things in our lives that we do not like, did not choose or cannot change–out of love for God, we are now fasting from our will, and instead are doing God’s, and therein, we have offered sacrifice. 

That’s where the idea of “offer it up” comes from. It’s not a begrudging or joyless fatalist attitude of “Ok, I guess I’ll put up with, or do this thing because I have to.” Rather, it’s “Ok, Lord, I love you so much that I joyfully CHOOSE to accept this.” 

So knowing that, what and how might you plan to fast and offer sacrifice this Lent? 

Finally (but definitely not least!), is almsgiving. For some, it could mean donating to the poor through Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl or giving food to a local food pantry, or visiting the sick and homebound, or another corporal or spiritual works of mercy.  

But as you are considering how you might live out the works of mercy, remember, almsgiving is always about LOVE. 

So I challenge you to think in even broader terms about how you can “go out to the margins” and seek to love by “giving alms”—your time, talent and treasure—in ways that will ensure that others—strangers, neighbors, friends and family—will experience the loving embrace of their Lord and Savior. 

As you create your Lenten plan and consider these three keys to a grace-filled Lent, pray and reflect upon what habits you desire to cultivate in your life so that by Easter, you will not only rejoice in His resurrection, but also you will have become a little more like Him–a blazing witness of His love and mercy in the world. 

This Lent, CHOOSE life. Not just for six weeks, but for a lifetime. 

For more resources like these to help prepare you, peruse my website, www.christinasemmens.com, or for more information about this topic, tune in my next FB Live Event THIS Thursday, February 28th at 7:30pm on the Say Yes to Holiness FB page.