embracing lent in a bleak world

Ugh, guys. Reminded of this right now. Kayla Mueller, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed, and Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha were all young, peaceful, engaged, faith-filled people. We need more of those kind of people in the world. It is tragic to lose even one of them, under any circumstances.

I want to spend my Lent focusing on how to embody those characteristics more closely. And I’ll probably fail. Because to be human is to try, to seek, to fail, to love, to sin, and then to do it all again. But I’m (yet again) going to take a whack at doing all those things better.

Last year, I prayed the Morning Offering every day and listened to some religious podcasts. It went really well for me, and I am still praying the Morning Offering every day. And the more I do, the less often I remember to do it on the Metro or while pouring a cup of coffee at the office. But I’ve kept it up and starting the day with the Morning Offering has been really centering for me.

This Lent, I want to take on some projects that will (hopefully) help me come to each day as a more mindful, aware, and connected woman. So… I’ll let you know how I am doing on Easter.

lent 2015

Here’s the breakdown of what I’m planning to take on this Lent.

  • “Whole40”
  • Spiritual reading only
  • Make my bed daily
  • Pray the Act of Contrition and Memorare before bed

“Whole40”: When I did my Whole30 last October/November, I had more energy, slept better, was generally in a better mood. Those factors make me think that eating along Whole30 principles for Lent will help me improve in a lot of other ways as well.

Spiritual reading only: I love to read. I have a long list of spiritual books that I want to read, and I usually let myself get distracted into reading other books. This Lent, I want to focus on reading things that not only feed my brain but also my heart and soul. (Note – I have read a number of the books above and am not trying to read all of the books in the photo.)

Make my bed daily: Less physical clutter, less mental clutter. Making my bed makes a huge difference, especially in my studio apartment. I also want to be able to be hospitable to guests at any time. My bed being neat takes part of the worry out of the equation – hopefully keeping the “I’m sorry it’s so messy!” factor out of welcoming people to my apartment.

Pray the Act of Contrition and Memorare before bedI’ve got the Morning Offering down at this point, next up is some night prayer routine. Closing the day peacefully and easing myself into sleep with a clear mind will hopefully continue beyond Lent and any strict adherence to Whole30.

None of these are independently too hard or too life-changing, but together with other practices I do anyway (mostly going to Mass and confession, with a Rosary or two thrown in) will hopefully make this Lent centering and refreshing, clearing the emotional clutter that news, work, and – to be honest – sin, create in me.

Now for a request: I’m currently reading Between Heaven and Mirth. What should I read next? The options are basically endless as you can see above. They really run the gamut. We’ve got Nouwen, Chesterton, Merton, and De Sales for Catholic classics. Hammarskjold and Lewis for inspiring Protestants. Armstrong for a little more popular-academics. Any must reads among them? Something else I’m missing and definitely should be diving into?

Linking up with Blessed Is She over here with a lot of other lovely women thinking and talking about Lent.

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13 thoughts on “embracing lent in a bleak world

  1. I just finished two books by Nouwen, and he’s brilliant! “Return of the Prodigal Son” was so amazing any description I would give of it wouldn’t do it justice. Sounds like you have a great Lent in store for you! 🙂

  2. i’m thinking of doing the whole40 but I don’t know if it’s too much of a commitment to food planning or quite possibly just the right commitment 🙂 I do really well with meal planning for a few days then I rush out of the house without packing anything one day and it’s all downhill from there. Good luck though!

    1. Grace, I do the same thing – but whole30/40 forces me to figure out an option beyond just going out to lunch. It’s a good trial for me because food planning is not a strong suit for me and I tend to be impulsive.

      1. I think what throws me off the most is when other people make me food. My house is right next to my mother in law and I visit my parent’s often so I’ll eat something not healthy that they made meanwhile my veggies wilt in the fridge and I question if the chicken breasts are still good 😦 lol. I’m also working 12 hours so I need to take quite a bit of food to work or else harass someone that has a later lunch than me to pick up something for me wherever they are going which is often panda express or taco bell :/

      2. Those are both hard, and I understand them myself well. Honestly, things like that are why I like Whole30 – forces me to confront the excuses I make for myself, not only in food but with being more intentional throughout my day.

  3. If you haven’t read any Thomas Merton already, I so strongly recommend the classic “Seven Storey Mountain”. If you want something more theologically based or have already read “Seven Storey Mountain”, “The Living Bread” is a good one too. I would also highly recommend Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s “But She Said”. “But She Said” is a great Feminist interpretation of the Bible from a Catholic perspective. If you’re looking something more lenten, Schüssler Fiorenza has another book, “Lent. Proclamation II: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year. Series B”. I haven’t read it, but I have liked her other books.

    1. I have read Merton! Blogged about finishing Seven Storey Mountain a while ago, I loved it so much. Thanks for the recommendation on Schüssler Fiorenza, will have to check her out (after I finish these two massive stacks of books).

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