A Lent well-lived needs an organizing principle. May we suggest that your conceit for Lent 2009--your organizing principle--be to:
Go. For. It.
Remember, there is no prohibition from "doubling" up, or choosing three, five, or seven things for Lent 2009 (Your Best Lent Ever!). We know that many of you have been intending to get off your duffs and do several of the following for years (and even decades--you know who you are).
We can only offer this bold encouragement because we are weak, slothful, wimpy, selfish, lazy, prideful, ashamed, and cowardly. Here are some suggestions to get into the spirit of GO FOR IT, followed by helpful hints, resources and comments...
1. Pray the Rosary every day.
2. Receive Communion at Mass every day.
3. Go to Confession every Friday.
4. Pray the Family Rosary every day or once a week.
5. Pray in silence 20 minutes a day.
6. Make a Eucharistic visit every day.
7. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet (at 3:00 PM) every day.
8. Fast on bread and water one to three times per week.
9. Read a spiritual book.
10. Give a painfully large donation to charity.
11. Give a donation to charity instead of buying something for you.
12. Pray "Jesus, I love you!" in the first waking seconds of the day.
13. Listen to Catholic CDs.
14. Do something major to improve your marriage.
15. Volunteer anywhere: at your kid's school, homeless shelter
16. Visit a home for the elderly
16. Give up something you absolutely love, crave, or spend time on, or that annoys the people you love, including:
-television or your favorite television show
-television before a certain hour
-television AFTER a certain hour
-chocolate, and anything with chocolate flavor
-all snacks or desserts
-movies, Netflix, movie rentals
-following your favorite sports team
-golf (an objectively grave moral evil) (only kidding)
-watching golf on TV
-a destructive, irresistable "friendship"
-picking your nose
-driving when you could walk
-sleeping in late on the weekends
-sleeping an "extra" ten minutes in the morning
-fast food drivethroughs
-not cooking breakfast for your kids
-shopping for clothes or food
-not stopping by your neighbors to say hello for weeks
-failing to visit or call your "not close by" relatives
-the beach (for those of you lucky enough to have one nearby)
-fishing, hunting, four-wheeling, skateboarding
-some of your "alone" time doing any hobby
-your absolute favorite, passionate hobby (aha, you just fainted!)
-nagging your husband (you know who you are)
-nagging your wife (she knows who you are)
-not smiling when you arrive at the office
-knitting, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku
-knitting? (you addicts understand)
-cigarettes, cigars, gum, and "phony candy" breathmints
-cellphone calls in your car on the drive home
-bluetooth headset (harder than you think)
-fantasy football, basketball, or baseball
-eat your vegetables (even you adults)
-betting on March Madness
-gossiping at work--say something nice instead
-stealing "little stuff" from your employer, including time online
-relations with your spouse (on certain days or weeks)
-thinking about yourself when you wake up or go to sleep (pray instead)
-thinking about yourself when you drive (pray instead)
-buying anything you don't need
That, ahem, should get you started. We are also big advocates of children giving up video games and television. Consider encouraging your little ones to abstain from meat on Friday and even to fast (using your parental judgment, under your supervision of course). Have them give 10% of their piggy bank into the collection basket.