How can we change course and really deepen our faith this Lent?
According to Jeanne Hunt writing in St. Anthony's Messenger, we begin by cleaning out our spiritual closets and getting rid of those spiritual skeletons that are hindering our relationship with God and others.
"We Catholics and other Christians," says Hung "have long put on spiritual ashes to renew our faith and turn back to God wholeheartedly. Yet, our traditional pillars of Lenten practice need to be regularly revisited and tweaked. We may need to leave our comfort zone and give ourselves a genuine spiritual workout. For Lent to really matter, we must take a hard look at the state of our spirits. Then we can respond in a way that establishes deeper connections with God, our families--and even ourselves.
"God invites us to look at all our relationships with a willingness to make changes. Giving up things that mean little to us, such as candy, soda, etc., are good but that cannot impact the state of our souls. We have to begin to look critically at how we spend time in prayer, what we worship in the secular world, or how we spend our money."
Here is what Hunt lists as her Favorite Lenten Fasts:
Proclaim an electronic fast on weekends. That means no iPad, iPod, Blackberry or computer until Monday morning. Then spend the resulting free time visiting people you love and spending quality time with your spouse and children.
Stay out of unnecessary stores during Lent. Anything beyond the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., is off-limits. Instead of adding more stuff during Lent, give away or throw away three things each day before Easter.
Go green in a big way. Every day perform a Lenten “random act of kindness for the earth.” Keep a journal of your green project work, and after Easter do these acts regularly.
Fast from media during Lent. Stop watching TV or Internet news or even listening to the radio. For 40 days, turn your thoughts to God. Choose to spend your time reading a book or magazine that feeds your soul.
Walk everywhere you can. Limit gas usage to a certain amount and make it last all week. Each day, walk with God. Simply imagine that you and Jesus Christ are running or walking side by side. Talk to him and listen to him.
Hunt recommends that we look at our lives objectively, honestly recognize our weaknesses, and then design a fast that responds to those weaknesses. Above all, says Hunt, "Don’t do something that comes easily. Your Lenten workout should hurt a little."
Enjoy your spiritual exercise!