Technology Solutions for the 3 Tenets of Lent
Have you decided how you will spend the next 40+ days living out the tenets of Lent – Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving? Sure, it began a few days ago, but honestly, it is never too late to devise and implement your Lenten plan. Most years I revise it as I move through the 40+ days. Every effort (no matter how small) we make, I am quite certain, the Lord (abundantly) blesses.
As your typical overachiever, I always have way more plans (or at least options) than I could ever balance or sustain. I suppose I just shoot high and contentedly settle for mid- to low results. It is my excitement with the out-flowing of grace during this season that gets the planning juices flowing.
Lectio Divina, even working through a few bible study books together. When Kevin entered Diaconate formation in our diocese, we were introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours. Probably best to say, ‘reintroduced,’ although life-long Catholics, these magnificent prayers of the Church and for the Church, were never part of our prayer arsenal. We use the iBrievary app and website to pray the Evening Prayer together; while we try to recite it daily, we are going to make a special commitment during Lent to assure we do.
Praying for the Living and the Dead – making this not only suitable for Lent but also appropriate for this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Deciding how to share your gifts of time, treasure and talent – doesn’t come from a website or Android App – it comes from your heart. Through prayer and discernment, I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will guide you on how best to offer your gifts this Lent.
The quote,“Love isn’t love, until you give it away” attributed to Oscar Hammerstein II, came to mind as I contemplated how I would address almsgiving in this Lenten column. As I googled the quote’s origins, I came across this beautiful Reba McIntyre song. I decided it would make the perfect accompaniment to our pondering where God is calling us to show charity this Lent.
Share you favorite Lenten Tech Solutions in the comment section below!!
This article first appeared in Catholicmom.com, Feb 12, 2016
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2018
#HowWeLent Challenge (CWBN Blog Hop)
There are 3 pillars of Lent. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
For this Lent, I decided to set 2 goals for each pillar. Read: Lenten Overachiever
Plans are Meant to be Altered
All over social media, those still left after the Lenten Exodus, people are confessing to their inability to keep their Lenten promises. According to Facebook and Twitter, there has been lots of coffee drunk, chocolate eaten, swears said, and prayer time skipped. The hashtag #LentenFail started showing up just a day into the liturgical season. The #LentFail numbers grew again after bacon bits, chicken broth and unintentional "Oh no, I totally forgot it was Lent" hamburger consumption on the first Friday of Lent.
Here is the good news. YOU Cannot Fail Lent. It is not a test. Lent is a time of looking at our lives and trying new ways to grow closer to Christ. Through prayer, fasting and charity, these forty days can be used to challenge our current choices and behaviors, and try on new ones. We may choose to pray more often or read the scriptures daily. If we only pray twice all week, when we normally pray only once - we have ended ahead! Perhaps you are fasting, like me from television. So you set the goal to only watch on Sundays, yet if you are only able to watch one day less, you have accomplished something during this Lent.
The Overachiever's Update
The WINE Lenten Book club featuring Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ's Passion through the Eyes of Women, has been remarkable. The interaction on the WINE website and the Facebook group have been so inspiring; what an incredible blessing to journey with so many faithful women. No one has it all figured out. It has been encouraging to read how following Christ can take on so many forms and is filled with ups and downs. Times when we can feel so close to Jesus we call him our friend and others when we wonder if we are just chasing a dream of what we hope and not what really is (or is not). It is the hope though, and those beautiful moments when God reveals himself to us, that keep us searching and praying.
I have also absolutely loved the #LentenWalk Photo Challenge on Instagram. View here!
The other goal for Lent was reading the Gospel of John and meeting weekly at my parish to discuss it. I went faithfully for the first few weeks but have to admit the last two weeks I've given priority to home obligations. We have one week left of Lent, and I do plan to go this week as it is Holy Week. The group barely made it through even half of the Gospel but it is 10 chapters more than we had studied before. The biggest gain for me personally was falling in love all over again with John 4 - The Woman at the Well.
Lent Episode featuring The Woman at the Well: Regrets
And the Rest ...
The television fast has been part of my Lenten practice for over 10 years. Each year, I manage to avoid watching Monday through Saturday (afternoon) for the enter 40+ days. This year has been no exception. The work productivity alone is worth continuing this practice beyond Lent. The extra time to read, pray and study has me once again hoping to take the grace of seeing I can live without TV into my Easter season. The hitch - it is Red Sox season!
The attempt to fast from certain foods to determine the cause of my eczema flare went well - in that I fasting for a few weeks than caved and ate eggs, peanut butter and even a little gluten, then quickly realized I am indeed sensitive to all of them. For my health and well-being I have not choice but to bring this fast beyond Lent. I just pray I will have the grace to stay strong. You would think just the uncomfortable itch would be incentive enough.
Since the Scriptures advice that we do our giving in private so that our reward will be in Heaven, I will refrain from sharing too much on this topic. I will say that we have been fairly successful in only dining out on Sundays, and curbing most of our extra spending. We've not been as sacrificial as we could (or should). Definitely identified some areas of weakness and lack of discipline in our spending. These last two years working on managing our finances have been some of the most difficult and yet most rewarding. The greatest joy is always when you have made good choices and have put yourself in a place to offer help to others.
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras
A little encouragement as we enter the 2017 Lenten Season:
Lenten Lessons from 2015
#1 - If you want to Follow Christ - to truly be His disciple. IF you desire to be used as an instrument of spreading the Good News -- be prepared to pick up your Cross (daily, sometimes hourly -ok, sometimes 'secondly'). There is NO doubt He's there with you but that thing (aka cross/burden/issue) can still get PRETTY heavy at times! Thank goodness for His promises shared with us in scripture...
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
#4 I loved all the extra time not watching TV gave me, I pray I can continue this discipline now that Lent is over!! **Because EVEN with that bonus time I am still insanely behind on my ministry projects ... see #5 for more on that
...Read more Lenten lessons from 2015
Some Lenten Small Success
Happy #SmallSuccess Holy ThursdaySuccess #1
Returned home - safe and sound - and healthy from my business trip to Washington, DC. While there for the Napa Institute's Human Ecology conference on the campus Catholic University of America - I learned:
... Read More Lent 2016 Success
The Lent 2017 Kickoff
Here we are at the beginning of another Lent. I am not sure when my Lenten love affair began, but I can tell you that it is currently in full bloom! I feel energized during this time of sacrifice. The grace of a Christian world praying, fasting and helping others in order to strengthen their relationship with Christ, is exciting! This year, as I contemplated what areas of my life could use a booster shot of faith - 6 ideas came to me. Being the overachiever that I am - instead of picking and choosing, I'm going to do my best to rock all of 6 them!
Prayer with Small Groups
My own reawakening to a life with Christ came about thanks to an amazing small group experience. Finding the right people, material and schedule, provided me an opportunity to connect with God not only on Sundays but also on the night of our meeting (as well as each day I spent with my reading assignments).
The small group gave me something to ACT (Accountability, Community and Teach-ability) upon. While I could always find many reasons not to read for myself, knowing others would be counting on me pushes through all my excuses. Aside from the accountability, I now have a community I am excited to spend time with and that also prepares me to be prepared for our study time. Learning new things also inspired and motivated me; and before long I found I had create daily prayer and reflection habits!
How I Plan to Overachieve in Prayer this Lent
Fasting To Improve my Life
For the past year, I have been hard at work on two areas of my life I had seriously neglected. My health (and weight) and my finances. In April 2016, this lifetime member returned to Weight Watchers after beginning the weight loss journey the year before with my daily Rosary walk and more mindful eating. After some initial success; I am now stuck roughly 5 lbs from my goal weight - but more importantly am feeling stuck in my willpower and lacking the motivation to continue. In addition, I've also been fighting a severe Eczema flare since June - and after applying every topical remedy I can find - know it is time to fight this from the inside.
So, Fast #1 is going to be in an elimination diet which will include not only gluten, dairy and wheat; but now also nuts, my beloved peanut butter and eggs. BRING ON THE AIR DIET! The tracking encouraged by Weight Watchers, which is really key to staying 'on track' (pun intended), will be valuable to helping me pinpoint if there is a food triggering responsible for this itch-fest that has become my life! Why include this in my Lent Plan? Simple, because focusing on what Jesus did for me during these 40 days of Lent; will certainly make not being able to have a PB&J for breakfast a little less dramatic!
Fasting isn't JUST about Food
Fast #2 will be from television. I have offered this one up every year. It is the best way to make more time for what I really want to do this Lent; which is build a stronger relationship with Jesus. This reduction in TV time always helps me eat less too - a win-win for sure!
Not So Secret Almsgiving
While I am well aware that the Bible teaches us to do our good deeds in private; as a blogger there is a part of me that hopes there is a little pass when you are sharing for the good of helping others develop their Lenten plans. I mentioned above that in addition to the health crisis; we also finally had to admit to a serious financial crisis as well. While the Lord has been incredibly generous to my family this year as we work all this out; I wanted to use Lent as a time to push our financial recovery plan even further. Sacrifice in a budget is even harder for me than giving up my favorite foods; so once again I will be clinging to the grace of Lent to strengthen my (ours really, as this is a family mission) resolve.
This idea starts off really as a fast and in the end will convert into alms-giving. Our goal is to look over our budget; and tighten it in places we have been either unaware or unwilling to in the past. We will then donate 10% of whatever we are able to save in the next 40 plus days.
40 Bags for 40 Days
Lastly, as I look around my home, I see clutter. Although I have been actively decluttering for the past 10 years; there still seems to be lots of hot spots needing attention. A blogger friend mentioned White House Black Shutters' 40 Bags in 40 Days declutter challenge, and I immediately knew that was the final piece of my Lenten Overachieving Puzzle!
What about you? Accountability, Community and Teach-ability are wonderful ways for us to connect during Lent. Share you Lenten Plan in the comments; and be sure to visit this month's CWBN Blog Hop!