Lent is a time in the church year when Christians observe a time of self-denial and repentance to prepare for the glorious day of the Lord (Easter Sunday). As Christians we must prepare ourselves and humble our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can come and cleanse us of anything that is keeping us from living and learning eternal life.
Here are a few practical ideas for observing a Holy Lent:
1. Put a small bowl of water on a table next to your front door or next to your bedside. Every time you leave the house or wake up in the morning dip your fingers in the water and make a small cross sign on your forehead. Say some words like, "I am a child of God, " or, "Remember your baptism and be thankful," or any other phrase that is meaningful to you. This practice will help you remember the purposeful, sacred time of Lent. *Note: You could say a family prayer over the water to consecrate it for this purpose.
2. Give up something! This is a very common practice for people to observe during Lent. Remember though, we're not giving up something just for the sake of ritual. We're giving up something that will stretch us and allow the Spirit of God to fill the void that it has left open. Fasting isn't about the act, but about what God can teach us in the void.
3. Make a home altar. This is an awesome way to set apart sacred space in your home. Find a small table and cover it with fabric. Voila! You have an altar. You can cover it with candles, a bible, a prayer bowl, a bowl of water (for baptismal remembrance), a book of common prayer, prayer beads, incense, a journal or anything else that will set apart this space as a sacred space. Remember, this should be located in a quiet area so that you will not be interrupted during your time with God. Also, remember to pray over the area and consecrate it as sacred.
4. Add something! During Lent we always think about giving up something. How about adding something? You could add a prayer time every morning. You could write a small prayer or mantra that you pray every hour. You could go through a class about forgiveness (or any other topic). You could exercise more. You could spend more time with your husband or wife. You don't always have to give something up...the idea is that you're trying to set yourself apart for the Lord so that the Lord can continue to renew you.
5. Create a Prayer Bowl: Put a bowl in a central location in your house or dorm room. Have people write down prayer requests during the day and put them in the bowl. Once a week, twice a week, or even every night people in your family/dorm can take a couple of prayer requests out of the bowl and pray specifically for them. These can be anything...war, suffering, personal issues...anything that is on your heart.
6. Create a Prayer Board - Same as a prayer bowl, except you could pin prayer requests to a bulletin board so that others can see and keep the request in their prayers during Lent.
These are only a few ideas for observing a Holy Lent. Let us keep journeying together towards the goal of Christ. Please comment with anymore ideas or thoughts!
Blessing for Lent
Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth;
you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism.
Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes,
and bless our journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth.
May our fasting be hunger for justice; our alms, a making of peace;
our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.
All that we do and pray is in the name of Jesus.
For in his cross you proclaim your love for ever and ever.
- Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers