Plan extra visits to church around errands
Everyone’s busy. It’s one of those badges of honor we all wear now, along with being sleep deprived. Making time for additional religious observances during Lent is hard, but that’s part of it, right? We’re human, we’re weak. So know yourself, and work with it. While you might put off going to adoration if it’s pouring rain, you probably wouldn’t put off buying milk or diapers, or dropping off your rent check. So, get on the web and search sites like therealpresence.org and masstimes.org. Schedule your appointments and errands around times for Eucharistic adoration, confession, or daily Mass, or go the other way and find a church close to where you’ll be for your other commitments.
Stop the mindless phone checks
Speaking of the web, I’m trying to limit my screen time and it’s very common to see fellow Catholics posting a “Gone for Lent” sticker on social media. Checking our phones for notifications is a wide-spread habit these days and an automatic reflex when we see others doing it. The only way I’ve found I can defeat the mindless checking is taking the tempting apps off of my phone. This year, however, I’ve gone one step further and downloaded some Catholic apps I learned of here. I have found them to be a very nice and helpful addition to my Lenten practices.
Get the kids involved
Decide as a family which things you will give up and which observances you’ll keep during Lent — kids are excellent walking, talking memo pads, and they have a natural love for rituals like nightly rosaries or Friday Stations of the Cross. They tend not to let adults get away with much, especially not following through on promises. The black and white thinking of a little mind can be especially helpful with Lenten sacrifices. Also, we want to be a good example for children and show them through our actions that this season of sacrifice is not optional.
Dedicate those extra minutes to your Lenten reading
If you’ve chosen some spiritual reading for Lent but are finding days at a time when you haven’t read a page, you’re not alone. Why not listen to the audiobook version in the car? Or, if you can, choose a small book that can be tucked into your purse, or go digital and read it on your tablet or phone. So what if it’s only two minutes while you’re on hold with the dentist’s office or waiting in the supermarket checkout line? My grandfather-in-law always said “pennies make dollars.” In this case, minutes make hours. Read when you can and don’t let perfectionism lead you to not read at all.
Lastly, and most important for me, is to be intentional. In general, my favorite way to approach most things is to wing it — and by favorite I don’t mean best or most successful. Winging it does not a good Lent make. So be intentional and specific with your Lenten intentions. Write them down in a journal or into your diary or calendar. Use some of these suggestions or brainstorm some of your own that work for your life and overcome — or even redirect — your weaknesses so that you arrive at the end of these 40 days prepared for Easter.