Lent Post Mortem


In software engineering it is common to have a post mortem upon completion of a large project.  A post mortem gives the team a chance to identify what went well and what went badly in the course of the project and investigate the root causes.  The idea is to continue doing what is good and avoid making the same mistakes in future projects.  I like to think of Lent as a large spiritual project that deserves its own post mortem.

When I look back at my Lent, here’s what I did right:

  • Received the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Listened to the Gospel nearly everyday
  • Prayed the rosary nearly everyday (okay, that’s not too different from my usual routine)
  • Fasted from alcohol, candy, and snacks during the day

What was less than ideal:

  • Did not attend any extra Masses or prayer services
  • Did not receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
  • While I did not snack during the day, I didn’t exactly show a lot of willpower in the evening.  So my fast was more like a delayed gratification on some days.

What did I learn?

  • Listening to the daily Gospel really fills in the story and teachings of Jesus that you don’t get only listening to the Sunday Gospel.  I started to better understand the buildup to Holy Week and how Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisees which led to his crucifixion.  I will try to continue reading/listening to the Gospel daily.
  • I should try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often.
  • Since I abstained from snacks and treats on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I know I can make it the entire day without them.  I should put in more effort to fast from snacks throughout the year, not just on those two days.

Now it’s your turn.  What did you gain during this Lent?  Where did you fall short and do you plan on correcting any errors made during Lent in this Easter season?

Preparing for the Preparation

It’s that time of year again. Flowers start to grow, the grass turns green, trees get their leaves back, and we get ashes on our forehead. Yep, that’s right, on March 5th we kick off Lent with Ash Wednesday.

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian on Ash Wednesday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read a great article in the Catholic San Francisco about how to prepare for Easter this Lent. Sister Margie Lavonis says it best when she wrote in her article, Lent: An opportunity to grow, that we shouldn’t “let this be just another 40 days of the year.”  She talked about many of the same themes I routinely mention on RosaryMeds (has she been reading my work?).  She touches on how our relationship with God needs a commitment from us, through prayer, to grow:

No relationship can deepen and grow unless we are willing to listen and share ourselves with the other person. God is no exception. During Lent, if you don’t already, set aside at least fifteen minutes of your time each day to be with God. Go to a quiet place, if you can find one, slow down and let God love you. Read and reflect upon some scripture each day and get to know the one who loves you unconditionally and who has given you all you have. I suggest using the Mass readings for each day and reflect on what God is saying to you. In fact, it would be good to try to go to Mass more than just on Sunday if you can.

She also covers some ideas for fasting and alms giving. Remember, it’s not all about giving up desserts and writing checks. I know it may sound cliche, but I’m really going to try to remember that it’s Lent every one of these 40 days leading up to Easter whether that means praying more, offering small sacrifices to God, or giving a little more of my time and patience to those who need it.  How about you?  Are you prepared to get prepared?

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Lenten “Weight” Loss Program

Welcome to the middle of Lent! I hope it has been a good season for you to really examine and work on your relationship with God. I came across this article on Catholic Exchange and thought it correlated nicely with my idea of spiritual exercise.

Welcome to the middle of Lent!  I hope it has been a good season for you to really examine and work on your relationship with God.  I came across this article on Catholic Exchange and thought it correlated nicely with my idea of spiritual exercise.  From the article:

Let’s face it, we are all weighed down to some extent by selfishness and assorted vices.  Given a choice, very few of us will choose suffering over comfort.  Many times, we don’t even realize how much we love to be comfortable.  Fortunately, the Church gives us the season of Lent to examine our souls and remove the extra “weight” that keeps us apart from the Lord.  Here are five simple steps that you can use during Lent to identify and eliminate some of this excess “poundage” from your life.

The article discusses examining ourselves, setting goals, and not giving up.  Where have we seen this before?  Oh yeah, losing Lenten “weight” can probably be seen as a requirement on becoming a Lenten Superstar!  And if this Lent hasn’t been a period of deep reflection like you hope it would, don’t worry.  You still have three more weeks of Lent.  And like Jesus‘ parable of the workers in the field, God doesn’t care what time you get on board and follow Him just as long as you do.

So let’s attack these next few weeks with spiritual fervor and tenacity.  Hands in… READY… GO LENT!

Lent — Winning Spiritual Gold

We are entering a very special time of the year. People all around the globe will come together and really show the extent of the human spirit. People from different countries, languages, and cultures will be united for a few weeks with a common purpose. It will be difficult and require many sacrifices. But in the end, some people will rise up and find a strength they never knew they had and emerge triumphant. Are you ready for… Lent?

Nancy Johnson with her Olympic gold medal
Image via Wikipedia

We are entering a very special time of the year.  People all around the globe will come together and really show the extent of the human spirit.  People from different countries, languages, and cultures will be united for a few weeks with a common purpose.  It will be difficult and require many sacrifices.  But in the end, some people will rise up and find a strength they never knew they had and emerge triumphant.  Are you ready for… the Olympics Lent?

Much like the Olympic games, Lent and Easter are not ordinary times of the year.  It is a special time where we set aside our usual routine and really focus on becoming stronger in our faith.  It is a time to really push ourselves spiritually so that we may win that eternal “gold medal” — God’s grace and a place in His heavenly kingdom.  Athletes train for years in preparation for the Olympics.  Similarly, we must train and build our spiritual muscles in order to get the most out of this holy season.  Similar to last year’s Lenten article, here are some things you can do to earn that “Lenten Gold”

  • Fast: This can be the toughest form of meditation and prayer.  Fast by consuming only one full meal during the day (two smaller meals are allowed to maintain strength).  While most people are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, become a Lenten Olympian by fasting more often.  Try fasting once or twice a week during Lent.  Not ready for that gold medal?  Just try skipping desserts and avoiding snacks.  God sees every small sacrifice.
  • Pray: Allow extra time for prayer.  Wake up five minutes earlier and spend that time in silent meditation.  Remain conscious of Lent by praying throughout the day.  Leaving work?  Coming back from lunch?  Running an errand?  Say a small prayer at any of these times as a reminder of your faith.  Want to go for the gold?  Check with your parish for Stations of the Cross, Adoration, and other Lenten events.
  • Sacrifice:  In the Olympics, earning your place on the podium takes hard work and sacrifice.  You have to constantly adhere to a strict training regiment and never “slack off” or become lazy.  Likewise, making the most of Lent requires making sacrifices.  Give up something difficult like watching television or browsing the internet.  Give up snacking.  Give up alcohol.  Replace your “guilty little pleasures” with prayer and build those spiritual muscles.
  • Know the Rules:  Olympic athletes need to understand the rules of their sport in order to win.  Skiers must know the twists and turns of a hill so that they can stay on the best path and achieve a winning time.  Hockey players need to know what actions result in a penalty and avoid making them.  How do you expect to be a Lenten superstar if you do not understand the rules of the game?  Read Bible passages.  Read a few pages of the Catechism every night.  Learn apologetics.  If you are feeling really ambitious, read one of the Holy Father’s encyclicals.  Knowing your faith will keep you on that winning path.
  • Confession: Even Olympic athletes have bad days.  Sometimes a ski jumper gets out of position and doesn’t get as much distance as he should.  Sometimes a figure skater falls while trying to land after a difficult leap.  But what do they all do?  They get back up, learn from their mistakes, move on, and try to do better the next time.  To be a Lenten athlete we also need to learn from our mistakes, get up, and move on.  Go to Confession.  Purge yourself of your sins, listen to the priest giving you absolution, do your penance, and move on and live in God’s graces.  Want to go for the gold?  Try to convince a loved one who hasn’t received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a long time to go during Lent.
  • Have a Plan: Olympic athletes set goals.  Skiers have a target time they have to beat in order to win a medal.  Figure skaters have a list of moves they need to complete in their routines.  They just don’t go out there without a strategy and hope that it all comes together.  Likewise, have a plan for Lent.  Make a list of all the spiritual goals you want to accomplish before Easter.  Start now and continually add to the list as you think of new ways to make this Lent an extra special time of prayer.

The holiest time of the year begins in a few days.  Are you prepared?  Are you ready to win that spiritual gold medal?  Please share in the comments any other ways we can all become Lenten superstars.