Lent is a wonderful opportunity to deepen our relationship with God, and to allow whatever Lenten practices we choose to do help us to recognize God's invitations in our lives. In his Message for Lent, Pope Francis encourages us:
"By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.
"Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbor as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! …When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.
"Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger."
Here are a couple of concrete ideas for spending a Lent in a way that can help us grow in the art of discernment:
1) Pray with the Word of God, using the readings from the Mass. The readings that the Church gives us during Lent are particularly striking and beautiful. Whether or not you can get to daily Mass during Lent, you can find the readings in a missal or online here. (You can also pick up a monthly missalette at one of our Pauline Book & Media Centers.)
2) Join one of the many online Lenten programs are available! Some offer daily reflections on the Word of God; some offer the support of a community as we try to stay faithful to our chosen Lenten practices; others offer weekly videos or ideas for how to be more generous with others.
3) Make a retreat. You can even make one at home! The Daughters of Saint Paul have started a new online community on Facebook, My Sisters, devoted to helping people meet Christ and experience his love in their daily life. The online community at My Sisters requires a subscription, and includes access to a living library of multimedia resources, livestream prayer and retreat opportunities, and spiritual companionship and guidance from individual Daughters of Saint Paul. (It is also a great way to learn more about the Pauline spirituality.) Our Lenten retreat, which will be available March 3rd, has the theme of God's will.
4) Fast from secular entertainment and replace it with movies and books that are spiritual. If you need ideas, just visit the Pauline Books & Media Center nearest you!
5) Make Saint Paul your “Lenten companion.” (Saint Paul is a fitting patron saint of Lent because he constantly speaks of the Lenten journey of dying and rising in Christ.) There are so many wonderful books available on Saint Paul, but you can also check out the resources for the new upcoming film, Paul, Apostle of Christ, starring Jim Cavaziel as St. Luke, which will be released during Holy Week, and then go to see it at the end of Lent. Here's a teaser of the trailer: