5 Tips for a Fruitful Lent
by Brandon Ocampo
Sometimes people treat Lent like another time to set resolutions. This is not necessarily a bad thing! But it’s a time to not just set resolutions or goals but a time to intentionally become closer to Jesus as we prepare for the Easter season. Now that we’re a few days into Lent, we thought we’d share some helpful tips on how to make this liturgical season even more fruitful!
This one may seem obvious, but we should begin and end all things with prayer! The Father wants to meet us in a special way this Lent. He wants to win our hearts as we journey through the desert. This can only happen if we’re actually taking the time to commune with Him through prayer. We need to remember that prayer is not just a part of our relationship with God—it is our relationship with God. If you’ve already been praying for 15-20 minutes a day, why not challenge yourself to spend a bit more time with Him? (But don’t aim for failure by taking on too much—that’ll be Tip #5!)
I don’t know about you, but I personally love background noise. Having the TV on in the background or listening to music while I work is a real comfort. But our lives are often so full of noise that we don’t take time out to actually enjoy silence. St. John of the Cross, one of the Doctors of the Church, said that “God’s first language is silence.” How can we know what God wants for our lives, including what He wants for us this Lent, if we don’t allow Him to speak to us in the stillness and in the silence? Silence can be uncomfortable, but it is there that our hearts are more receptive to hearing God’s loving voice.
3. Read a Spiritual Book
I’m a bookworm who often forgets to read. Sounds contradictory, right? But we shouldn’t just let our books sit there. Lent is a wonderful time to pick up a great spiritual book and to dive into it. After all, if you love someone you would naturally want to know more about them. What better way to love Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him than by learning more about Him, the saints, or the Church? Christ is calling us in a special way to take some time and to nurture our relationship with Him. Don’t let this time pass you by—leave this Lenten season closer to Christ.
4. Offer Up Sacrifices
During Lent, we’re asked to participate in almsgiving. This doesn’t have to stop at just tossing another dollar in the collection basket at Mass. If you’re one to go out every single day for a coffee at Dunkin’ or Starbucks, why not take this opportunity to make your own coffee? Set aside all the money you could’ve spent and give it away to the poor at the end of Lent. You can even give it to a specific charity or ministry. Maybe there’s an outreach ministry at your parish that needs financial support and what you’ve collected can help this ministry. This little sacrifice can remind us that others do not often have the privilege to go out. What can you give up? How can you be more intentional and supportive with your finances? By offering up our sacrifices, our love is not just a noun but also a verb—an action.
5. Don’t Take On Too Much
It does need to be said: don’t take on too much. Those who work in parishes or ministry may often feel like they should be doing more. And that may be true! But don’t overwhelm yourself. Christ is calling you to be more and to do more, but not necessarily in the ways we may think. More often than not, this may discourage us when we do fail in our promises. Be realistic with your promises and intentions. If you’re not a monk, you don’t need to pray like one—especially if you’re married and/or have children. Your promises should be conscious of your life’s needs. You shouldn’t be so focused on a Lenten promise that you neglect your spouse, friends, or family.
In short, God wants to meet you in a special way this Lenten season. He wants you as you are, not as you think you should be. Open your heart and allow Him to transform you into the saint you’re called to be.
As we enter deeper into this season, always ask yourself, “How can I draw closer to the Lord this Lenten season?” If you keep that question in mind, you’ll definitely find yourself closer to Christ.