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Here is a little resource to help you understand Lent, Ash Wednesday, Holy, Week, and more a little better.
In Preparation for Lent here are 5 Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?
2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that habit over the next 40 days?
3. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation?
4. From Osheta Moore: I read somewhere to begin my Lenten fast with asking God what He wants me to “pick up” from Him, and that will help me discern what I should “put down” for Him.
5. From Lynne Sykora Stadler: Our family has tried to approach the Lenten season with “What will I add?” not “What will I give up?” Things such as adding stillness in our lives. Adding more giving to those in need, what ever that might be-time tutoring a child who needs help in school, giving food to a shelter or food pantry, etc. Adding more prayer, more intentional time with God. The hope is that prayerfully practicing something God leads us to add to our lives will benefit others and keep our focus on Christ, not on ourselves.
We have compiled a number of resources to support and encourage you through Lent as you journey to the cross…and beyond. They consist of the following categories:
WATCH – Stories are powerful, they shape us, they define us, they help us relate lifes, events, feelings and more. Movies are the stories of our time in history. Here is a collection of movies that may help you to reflect on beauty, pain, mystery and reality of life, faith and God.
- The Mission- PG- 18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.
- The Way- PG 13- A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.
- Chocolat- PG 13- A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community.
- Jesus of Montreal- R- A group of actors put on an unorthodox, but acclaimed Passion Play which incites the opposition of the Catholic Church while the actors’ lives themselves begin to mirror the Passion itself.
- Gimme Shelter- PG 13- A pregnant teenager flees her abusive mother in search of her father, only to be rejected by her dad and forced to survive on the streets until a compassionate stranger offers a hopeful alternative.
- Milagro Beanfield Wars- R- In Milagro, a small town in the American Southwest, Ladd Devine plans to build a major new resort development. While activist Ruby Archuleta and lawyer/newspaper editor Charlie Bloom realize that this will result in the eventual displacement of the local Hispanic farmers, they cannot arouse much opposition because of the short term opportunities offered by construction jobs.
- The Snow Walker- PG- A pilot and his passenger struggle for survival after crashing in the Arctic tundra.
- The Song of Bernadette- Unrated- The film is the story of a simple peasant girl who wins the quality of a ‘Saint.’ Bernadette was born in an isolated French village called Lourdes, in January 7, 1844.
- Babbette’s Feast- G-In 19th century Denmark, two adult sisters live in an isolated village with their father, who is the honored pastor of a small Protestant church that is almost a sect unto itself. Although they each are presented with a real opportunity to leave the village, the sisters choose to stay with their father, to serve to him and their church.
- God is the Bigger Elvis- Unrated- Dolores Hart left a successful Hollywood acting career to become a nun. A true story.
- Living on One Dollar- Unrated- An award-winning film that has been called “A Must Watch” by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Director of The Hunger Games, Gary Ross. Living on One Dollar follows the journey of four friends as they set out to live on just $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala.
- Dogma- R- An abortion clinic worker with a special heritage is called upon to save the existence of humanity from being negated by two renegade angels trying to exploit a loop-hole and reenter Heaven.
- Fresh- R- A bright young African-American boy attempts to survive life in the city by acting as an errand boy for a drug dealer in this thoughtful, sharply plotted drama. Known as Fresh, the young man must use his delivery jobs to support himself and his troubled sister, receiving nothing from his distant, alcoholic father but the occasional chess lesson.
- Entertaining Angels- PG 13- For spending much of her life helping the poor and unfortunate, the late Dorothy Day was known as the American Mother Teresa. This biopic tells her inspirational story. The film begins in 1917 when Day was living in Greenwich Village, hanging out with such notorious liberals as Eugene O’Neill and working as a politically active radical journalist strongly supporting women’s suffrage.
- Romero- PG 13- The life and work of Archbishop Oscar Romero who opposed, at great personal risk, the tyrannical repression in El Salvador.
- A Man For All Seasons- G- The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.
- Schindler’s List- R- In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.
- The Fisher King- R- A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.
LISTEN – Music can transport us in many ways. Consider taking time to listen to various styles of songs, mediate on their sounds, words, and what thoughts, memories, or feelings they help to provoke.
- Secular Songs
- Worship Songs
- Other Christian Songs
- St. Matthew’s Passion by Bach
- Gregorian Chants from Assisi
- Te Deum – 5th Century Monastic Chant
- All Glory Laud and Honor
PRAY – Prayer can be so many things. We collected a few ways that you may choose to experiment with prayer.
- For your abstinence/fast – if you are giving up something for Lent, pray for how you are hoping God will fill the void with something of him, and his kingdom
- In thanksgiving – list all the ways you have to give thanks in your life
- For those who are sick or seeking healing
- Postured Prayer – our body’s positions can help us to stay focused in prayer and/or can help us to experience prayer more fully. (Google “prayer postures” to learn more)
- Of Confession – clear your conscience, admit your thoughts, feelings, experience, emotions that you have and surrender them to God
- For Wisdom
- For Strength
- Yell Like Heck – Express your anger to God
- Stations of the Cross – pray over these, we’ll offer a physical version for you to pray through during Holy Week (Experience the Stations – Parental Discretion is advised)
- Stare at something Holy – our eyes are powerful, fixing our eyes on something can help do direct our thoughts, prayers and imaginations
- Repeat One Word – if you identified a word at the beginning of the year, repeat it over and over; and/or focus on another word that God may be impressing upon you
- Pray Psalms of Penitence – 6, 32, 38, 51, 201, 230, 143
- Prayer of the Penitent
- Prayer of St. Ephraim
- “For Lent’ by Madeleine L’Engle
- Prayer at Compline from Common Book of Prayer
- Follow Daily Suggestions for pray and reflection. Option 1 or Option 2
- Bring coffee or a treat for a coworker
- Drop off goodies to fire fighters
- Return a grocery cart.
- Buy an extra bag of groceries and donate to the local food bank
- Invite people to your place for dinner
- Stock your work fridge with drinks
- Make pretzels and share the history of this traditional German Lenten food with your family
- Skip a meal and pray instead for the broken places in your life you want to see transformed
- Make cookies for a neighbor
- Make a donation
- Give a gift to a service worker (dry cleaner, bank, etc.)
- Have flowers delivered to someone at a nursing home who doesn’t get visitors
- Leave an extra big tip for a waiter
- Send a care package
- Contact a close friend and tell them how they have impacted you
- Call/email a company about a great employee
- Call an old friend and catch up
- Clean out closet and give to goodwill
- Give old jewelry to someone with a little girl who can play dress up with it
- Donate dresses for prom
- When someone compliments something of yours, give it to them
- Volunteer with an organization like Habitat for Humanity for the day
- Pay for a free car wash
- Let others go in front of you.. all day!
- Do a chore for your significant other
- Do something unexpected for a family member
- Compliment a stranger
- Walk around the neighborhood with a friend and talk to at least one stranger. Share a cup of coffee or lunch. Ask them about their life.
- Tape $1 to a coke machine.
- Visit VFW or AMVETS or other Military organization to inquire about volunteer needs or opportunities
- Contact Prevail to inquire about volunteer needs or opportunities.
- Handwritten thank you note.
- Write a letter to a college student
- Write a letter to someone who is under-appreciated
- Write a thank you note to the mailman
- Write a letter to a grandparent
- Write a note to a church leader
- Write an appreciation letter to a parent
- Random text to brighten someone’s day
- Contact a close friend and tell them how they have impacted you
- Call/Email a company about a great employee
- Text your in-laws
- Start a thankfulness or kindness journal
- Tell your boss that he/she is doing a good job
- Forgive a grudge. Tell the person
FAST – Fasting today is not really fasting. It is abstaining. But it can still serve as a reminder to us of the voids we have in our life and how we can put ourselves in a position to better hear or be shaped by God…or to just learn more about ourselves. Consider these areas of abstaining, and try practicing the art of absence to tune your soul to God.
- Fast from TV
- Social Media
- Talking – set time aside to be silent for 24 hours, if you can’t do 24 – see how long of time you can find
- Texting – call them instead
- Sex (your spouse should consent and agree)
- From dating –
- Spending Money – don’t buy anything that is not a necessity
- From church – if it’s a chore or causes you stress to be here, stop coming – you aren’t coming for the right reasons and motivation
- From a meal – give it to someone else or use the money saved to donate to a cause
- 101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent
SIMPLIFY – to be empowered and to be present so you may more fully enjoy life and relationships. Make authentic choices and to create a rhythm in life free from clutter of all kinds.
- Take time for yourself. Try to start with 30 minutes. See if you how much you can increase that each day or week during lent.
- Clean out your, cabints, closet, shed, and garage. Donate the items to St. Vincent de Paul or another organization who helps to redistribute the items to those who need them.
- Create boundaries. Take back some control in your day, relationships, time, finances, etc.
- Complain less. It takes more energy and can be emotionally and spiritually draining to complain. Instead of complaining, pause, step back from teh frustration and find a way to give thanks or say something positive.
- Say “yes” less. We struggle to tell people no. Consider what you have to give us by saying “yes.”
- Say “no” less. You have been putting something off that you know you need to be doing. Stop making excuses and just do it. You know you need to.
- Give less time to the media. Take a break from the news both good and bad. Instead of seeing what’s going on in the world, taking some time reading scripture and seeing what God is saying to you.
- Spend less time online. Instead read, go for a walk, invite someone over, learn a new hobby.
- Want less. Don’t buy anything for yourself that is not necessity during Lent.
- Fill your life with people you love.
- 18 Ways to Live Simply
- 81 Itsy Bitsy Ways to Live a Simple Life