Choosing a Lenten discipline

Choosing a Lenten discipline

Lent begins this Wednesday, and it’s good for us to spend these next few days praying about our resolutions for Lent.

The Lenten discipline is a very personal decision. We’re all called to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but the days in between are left to individual discernment.

Pope Francis is calling on each of us to “give til it hurts” this Lent. He has famously said, “I long for a church for the poor and of the poor.” And to that end, he has asked the entire Church this Lent to embrace the poverty that our Lord embraced. He wants us to support the poor, not just by giving to the poor, but also by sharing their poverty.

We could take that literally, by turning off our electricity, living on bread and water for the forty days of Lent, and donating all the money we save to Project Compassion!

But remember: in the spiritual life, it’s better to think like small children. Heroic penances often invite failure, and worse: they can foster pride. The last thing Lent should do is transform us into Pharisees.

The solution, I think, is to “think little.” The modest sacrifices a small child could make won’t attract attention — much less admiration — but they can help us live the spirit of Lent.

This is our challenge in the next few days. To resolve, with God’s help, how we will embrace poverty this Lent, how we will give til it hurts, and how we will live spiritual childhood.

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