So here we are, close to the completion Lent and maybe we haven’t been as faithful to what we have “given up” as we were on Ash Wednesday or maybe we just haven’t made any changes at all. Just like New Year’s resolutions, we find failures once again because we didn’t follow through with our promises. We are, of course, a fallen, sinful people, what is the point of all of this anyway?
Well, it is never too late with God. Lent is, after all, a time of spiritual renewal, a way to look at our sinful ways, repent and look towards the Cross. Here are a few ways to end Lent strong and look forward to the Resurrection.
Give up or do something now
What we ‘give up’ or ‘do’ doesn’t have to start on Ash Wednesday. Why not start today? God lives outside of our day and night, and he just wants our love, and it doesn’t have to start on any particular day—just start today.
Pray with St. Faustina
St. Faustina is a great modern day saint who gave us the Divine Mercy image and the messages from Jesus in her diary. Susan Tassone has complied meditations based upon her diary for each day of Lent or it can also be used in times of suffering. Check out Praying with Jesus and Faustina during Lent and in Times of Suffering and pray along daily from Ash Wednesday through Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter). What is great is that the book also includes meditations on the Stations of the Cross along with other prayers and litanies from St. Faustina.
Go to reconciliation
Yep, it’s that painful time when we have to admit where we have sinned. While the Church only ‘requires’ a Catholic to go to reconciliation once a year (check out this article for details), this is the perfect time to start the habit of going to reconciliation regularly. We must go to Confession if we commit a mortal sin, but even those little, venial sins can add up and tempt us to commit more serious sins, therefore it is important to go to Reconciliation as often as possible.
Ponder the Passion
We do not like suffering, in fact, when others are suffering we want to take away their pain and suffering. Unfortunately, we are witnesses to the ultimate suffering of Jesus Christ each year during Holy Week. Is there anything we can learn from his suffering? Gerald Vann shows us a way to meditate upon the Lord’s Passion in The Pain of Christ and the Sorrow of God. Each chapter takes us through the Passion that leads Christ to the Crucifixion and how Jesus, being that perfect sacrificial lamb, allows us to be redeemed.
Jesus often told his disciples not to worry—God provides for the birds and the animals—how much more will he provide for us because he love us so much more? Unfortunately, in times of sorrow or troubles, we forget this promise. We worry and have anxiety about things that we know we should not. Yes, there are things that are truly worth praying about, but we must trust that God has it. One way to let go of those worries, is to see the blessings. Every day, have each member of your family write down a blessing and place it in a jar. At the end of the week, or month, or maybe even on Easter, take out those blessings and read them out loud. When we see how God is working in our lives daily, we will learn to let go of those worries.
Share the “Good Thief” story with the kids
Raymond Arroyo has brought us a new Easter story that we don’t always ponder – the “Good Thief”. The Thief Who Stole Heaven, is a beautiful story about Dismas and how he lived a life of murder and thievery. The pictures are so vivid and will hold the attention of kids (and adults) of all ages. Arroyo eloquently tells the story of a lost soul and his chance encounter with the infant Jesus, and how His mercy ultimately saved helped the thief steal heaven. It shows us that no soul is too lost to be redeemed.
Meditate on the gift of the Eucharist
Holy Thursday is the day we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. We receive the Blessed Sacrament, and may not truly realize that is the Body and Blood of Jesus. In August of 2019, Pew Research released a report that only one third of Catholics believe in the transubstantiation (source). Jesus tells us in John 6, we must actually eat his body and drink his blood to have life within us. Fr. Edward Looney has published Meditations after Holy Communion: Guided Meditations for Every Sunday and Other Holy Days, to help us to truly understand and ponder how Jesus comes to us in the Blessed Sacrament each week. This guide can be started any time, just find the week of the liturgical year we are on, read the intro before Mass and the Points to Ponder after Communion. This will bring you deeper into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.