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02 March, 2011

Lent is a week away

I cannot even believe that Ash Wednesday is a week away.  Yesterday, The Georgia Bulletin wrote about the difficulties of kicking off Lent this year.  And so I started thinking...

It still feels like we just put our Christmas decorations away.  Regardless, it's the time of year in Atlanta where the trees are starting to bloom, the air is starting to warm up, and Publix is starting the "grilling season" radio commercials. Yet, spiritually, I'm suffering a post-Advent let down, a little seasonable depression, and my annual questioning mindset of "why?"

And, bam! Lent is here - finding me at a cross roads where a luscious spring meets a spiritual drought.

When I look at the purpose of why the Church established Lent, it's to combat exactly my same dilemma.  I am not alone (but why do I always feel that way?).  And the Church uses three ways to give ourselves a little spiritual bootcamp: 1) Prayer 2) Fasting 3) Almsgiving.

As a child this is simplified to "giving something up" and many of us never grow beyond that understanding of Lent.  A few years ago as I was teaching about Lent to the middle school kids I discovered this beautiful teaching of a threefold Lent and realized, "hey, the Catholic Church really knows what they're doing!"  Ever since then my Lent has looked a little different than just giving up chocolate or tv. While sometimes giving up cookies during Lent (read: Girl Scout cookie season) might feel like you're in solidarity with the Crucifixion, you're not. At all. Time to grow up and take a honest, prayerful look at what your soul needs for Lent.

Ever since I learned more about the purpose of Lent, the last few years have looked a little different.... Two years ago I gave up all drinks except water & milk as my "fast."  I figured I probably spent an average of $20 a week on drive through sodas, a coffee or two, and a happy hour cocktail.  So each week I took that $20 and put it in an envelope.  At the end of Lent I took the cash to Wal-Mart to buy enough food to make 500 Bologna and cheese sandwiches.  I then brought my middle schoolers to the soup kitchen with me where we assembled and distributed those sandwiches.  It was amazing to see my "fast" and "almsgiving" in direct prayer and service.

My Lent 2011

This year my fast will include giving up Facebook.  And I'm not making excuses for "work purposes"  The goal of this is to grow in communion with REAL people and to force me to pick up the phone or meet them out in person.  I've grown mindlessly addicted to trolling Facebook.  It's almost as bad as my mindless eating habit...haha.  I realized my addiction was getting out of hand when I had to set restrictions on my web browser to time-out of Facebook at home after 10 minutes and 30 minutes at work - but after the screen went blank I would open another browser.  Ugh.  So, Good-bye Facebook.  I'll see you again on Easter Monday.  Because I spend so much time on the Internet my prayer life has really suffered. Hello, I spend a good 30-45 minutes scouring the internet each morning when that time belongs to God!  In lieu of Facebook I will be attending daily Mass Monday through Friday.  As for my almsgiving I am going to use my spending money to offer a scholarship for a student to attend the EDGE retreat.  Eric has been doing that for years - giving up a little of his extras so that a student can attend a Life Teen retreat.

So dear Internet, now you know. Help me stay accountable!

What are you doing for Lent this year?  Why? Just a week left to prayerfully consider...

Still not sure what you want to "do" for Lent? Here is one of my favorite Catholic educator's blogs...he always has little Lenten suggests for kids (and adults) of all ages. Take a look.

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