30 Ideas for Lent
We give things up for Lent not simply to do things that are painful. The point is to make room for God. We take a step back from our attachments and distractions in order to focus on what is most important. There are three major categories of things we can sacrifice in Lent: time, food, and money. These three correspond to the three elements of Lenten practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let’s explore the possibilities for what we can give up or add for the three areas, giving ten examples for each of them.
If we make a sacrifice of our time, we open up greater space for God. In terms of our Lenten discipline, you could think of it as cutting out wasted time or entertainment in favor of prayer: taking time away from things in order to give it to God. You could give up any or all of the following:
1) video games, 2) movies, 3) music, 4) TV, 5) social media, 6) reading for pleasure, 7) online news, 8) app use, or 9) sports.
Most importantly: 10) you could add at least a half an hour of prayer each day.
Changing how we eat and drink has been an essential part of Lent from the beginning. As it is a time to enter into the desert with Jesus and to focus more on the spiritual life, we should be a bit hungry and thirsty. Lent used to entail a 40 day fast (with no food until evening originally). It’s important to make some kind of sacrifice in how we eat and drink. Here are some ideas:
11) abstain from meat more than just on Friday, 12) don’t eat between meals, 13) fast every day except Sunday (one meal and two small meals that together do not equal one meal), 14) give up junk food and sweets, 15) abstain from alcohol, 16) give up eating out, 17) don’t go to the bar, 18) give up coffee and caffeine, and 19) fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
And most importantly, you can focus on consuming the most important food and drink more often: 20) go to Mass more frequently.
How we use our money (just like how we spend our time) also shows our priorities. Giving a portion or tithe of our income to God shows that he is the source of all of the good things we possess. He also asks us to use our money for the material good of others in almsgiving (beyond the tithe), which helps them while spiritually benefiting us. Almsgiving has always been a pillar of the Lenten tradition, showing that we need to focus on others and not just our own selves in this season. To help others this Lent, we could consider:
21) begin or increase tithing, 22) give alms to the poor and needy, 23) give up unnecessary shopping, 24) make sandwiches for the homeless, 25) volunteer with Catholic charities, 26) use money saved from sacrifices for charity, 27) support Catholic education, 28) volunteer at your parish, or 29) or organize a charity campaign.
Finally, you should: 30) offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), because ultimately you are the gift God wants this Lent.
Looking for a good way to journey through this Lent as a man in Christ? The 2023 Lenten spiritual exercise from the Exodus team starts February 22 (Ash Wednesday). Get prepared here.
Dr. Staudt holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as Visiting Associate Professor at the Augustine Institute in Denver. He was previously the Associate Superintendent for the Archdiocese of Denver. He has founded a Catholic school and served as a DRE in two parishes and as Director of Catholic Studies at the University of Mary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). His editing experience includes six years as the managing editor of the journal Nova et Vetera and the books Renewing Catholic Schools: How to Regain a Catholic Vision in a Secular Age (Catholic Education Press) and The University and the Church: Don J. Briel’s Essays on Education (Cluny Media).
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