Every year I have big ideas on how to make Lent meaningful (i.e. grow closer to God) but I always end up doing something lame like giving up chocolate or wine. This year I’ve come up with some specific things that I plan to give up and take on (mostly take on–check out Catholic blogger William Newton’s post about that subject), which will hopefully help deepen my relationship with Jesus. Perhaps I’ll update you from time to time on how things are going.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: I’m posting this here instead of my Eat Play Work Love blog because I’m hoping to ease into just having one, which leaves me with the challenge of figuring out how to incorporate my everyday life and my Catholic faith into a blog mostly about running and geocaching (although there hasn’t been much of that lately, I’m sorry to say).
Here ya go, in no particular order:
I’m finally going to sit down and write thank-you notes to family members and friends for our Christmas gifts. That’s this weekend’s task!
Set my alarm 10 minutes earlier to study the Catechism. Last week I picked up The Rosary Workout by Peggy Bowes (one of the many books that I’ve had for a long time that I started but never finished–and I’m sure I will tell you more about my journey through that program in a future post). One of the things that Peggy recommends is to read Part Four of the Catechism of the Catholic church about Christian prayer. I may or may not finish, but I’ve already gained some insight from what I’ve read just over the last few days.
(Too much spiritual reading to tackle at once?)
For the last several years Ray and our two older boys have made it a tradition to go to the 6:30 am daily Mass every Tuesday during Lent, and then have breakfast at McDonald’s before heading to school and work. Now that our youngest is in high school and I’m no longer driving him to the Catholic school up the road every morning (I sure as heck don’t miss fighting the traffic on Route 17!), I’m planning to join them. Minus Matt the college boy of course; and I’ll pass on McDonald’s…
Study the Gospels, one of the spiritual exercises in The Rosary Workout. I don’t know if I’ll read all four by the end of Lent, but as soon as I’m finished with the book I’m reading now (Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb–it’s taking forever but I’m almost done and it’s VERY interesting) I’ll start with Matthew and see how far I get.
I signed up for Matthew Kelly’s “The Best Lent Ever” program on his website Dynamic Catholic. Every day during Lent I get an email with a link to a short video, a reflection (usually an excerpt from Kelly’s book Rediscover Jesus), and another short video on the same topic. Ash Wednesday’s topic was making a fresh start, and Thursday’s was getting to know Jesus better. It’s a quick little devotion that I can do while I’m eating breakfast. Seriously, the videos are like a minute and a half long.
(I found this book in Matt’s room right after we took him off to college back in August. I read about three-fourths of it and then I just stopped for no apparent reason. Hopefully sometime in 2016 I’ll start over and read it all the way through. It’s good stuff.)
I should give up social media because I keep reading about all these great Lenten programs online! Today I signed up for yet another one–blogger Hallie Lord’s 40 Days to Fearlessness. When you sign up, you identify a fear that you have–not necessarily a big one like the fear of dogs or heights, but something small that eats away at you and keeps you up at night. Things like being afraid of what people will think if you speak out about something that just isn’t right. Or of going to the next level in your fitness because of the fear of getting injured or that you’ll fail or that people will think you’re crazy. So I went on her website and identified my fear, and every Monday Hallie will post a challenge to help me overcome it. (I have so many fears it’s hard to choose just one! You should take a look at some of the things people are afraid of. I can identify with so many of them, and just reading through what people wrote down helped me realize that I’m not alone and that perhaps I’m not as big of a
loser wimp as I thought.) Meanwhile I should look at the list of people who signed up and pray for the person whose name comes before mine.
I think this is the one I’m most scared of…but I’ve heard I should do one thing every day that scares me, so there’s that. (By the way, did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt never actually said that? Check this out.)
If #6 is the scariest, then #7 may be the hardest: No music during my runs. Instead focus on prayer and meditation. I do pray while I run, but often I find myself rushing through the prayers so I can turn on the music already. I’ve run an entire half marathon without music, so I know I can do it; in fact, I didn’t turn on my music until Mile 16 of the Richmond Marathon. Those were races, though; when I’m slogging out a 12-mile run by myself it won’t be easy. Perhaps I’ll be more diligent about finding other people to run with on a regular basis, which was one of my RunnerCaching resolutions. And if I must listen to something…well, maybe I’ll put on a good Catholic podcast.
(On Friday I ran just over 7 1/2 miles with no music. I prayed the sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the Rosary instead, taking some time to reflect and really think about each mystery as I ran. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought, and I was able to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings and truly run with Jesus and Mary.)
BONUS TAKE #8
Participate in 40 Days for Life. I’ve signed up to pray at the Richmond Medical Center for Women on Wednesday February 24 at 4 pm, if you’d like to join me! I’ve prayed there before with 40 Days for Life; in fact since it’s right on the Richmond Marathon course I was able to stop for a minute during the race and pray a little bit. You can find a 40 Days for Life campaign near you here.
OH, and I’m hoping by the end of Lent there will be, a Fredericksburg chapter of LIFE Runners, or that we’re well into the process of establishing one. If you’re in the Fredericksburg area and are interested, let me know in the comments or email me! You don’t have to be a runner; in fact I’m hoping that some of my non-running pro life friends will join. Another one of this weekend’s tasks is to get with one of my newest friends ( 🙂 ) and fellow LIFE Runner and set up an initial meeting, or at least pick a date. THIS is by far the Lenten project I’m most excited about, and perhaps the second scariest one!
There you have it. I’m not giving up wine, as I had planned to do, but I will be limiting it to the weekends; and there’s no point in giving up geocaching because I hardly ever do it anyway especially this time of year, so no sacrifice there, really.
Are you an observer of Lent, and if so what are your plans?
Check out This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes. I think you’ll get a kick out of Kelly’s post this week about valentines and Lent. Have a great Presidents Day Weekend, and a wonderful Valentine’s Day!