Pray Tell’s regular contributors were invited to submit their Lenten resolutions, and all spoke up. Here’s what they offer Pray Tell readers:
- I will fast from distracting thoughts, anxieties, and guilt.
- I will strive to allow the Lord to ‘set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips’ so I can hear the Lord – and my neighbor.
- I will devote extra time this Lent to playing with my child (children).
- I will be much more rigorous about the question of whether the things I do will contribute to building an infrastructure of goodness in church and society. In an era when disruption and spectacle are the dynamics most prized and sought after, I pray for the wisdom to embrace the undramatic task of building something up wherever I am able. It is easier to curse the darkness than to light a candle. I’d like to light some candles.
- As one form of almsgiving, I will take a thorough inventory of my clothing and footwear (good rule of thumb is to remove clothing not worn in the past twelve months, but other criteria can work, of course), and I will donate these to a charity such as Goodwill or Catholic Charities. While such non-profit agencies are only able to sell about one-fifth to one-half of the donations in their thrift shops, they do sell the rest to recycling companies. Clothing and shoes (the latter are the worst) take centuries to biodegrade, whereas they can be recycled into such products as carpet backing, pillow filling, etc. With prayer, I hope to fast from consumerism (Americans consume five times as much clothing as in 1980), and thereby Care for Our Common Home.
- Apart from my usual Lenten practices – no Facebook, limited meat – I will read parts of Ambrose of Milan’s mystagogical preaching (De sacramentis ) daily as a way of recalling my baptism in preparation for the renewal of baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil, and to pray and be in solidarity with the elect.
- I will, as I usually do, give up hard liquor because it makes me think, I will abstain and fast on Fridays, but I think in addition to those (one corporately traditional, the other personally traditional), I will abstain from listening only to speak and immediately respond, to practice less talk in order to learn how to truly listen to the other.
- I will seriously and calmly read the Office of Readings every day. And think about it, just for a little while.
- Fasting practices can sometimes lead only to increased desire for the thing (the Buddha’s insight!), unless they are linked to the other two pillars of Lent. One idea is to pray the Our Father aloud and slowly everyday to contemplate the vision of the kingdom therein. Obviously, other texts work too.
- Fasting from meat has led to our greater creativity in the kitchen, which helps to care for our common home even beyond Lent. The money saved from buying beans instead of beef can support feeding others. The concrete encounter in almsgiving is important (a Catholic Worker insight!), so resolving to stop and speak with at least one beggar, forming some relationship in the giving.
- I will pray the examen prayer more faithfully twice a day to develop an “attitude of gratitude” as SpongeBob SquarePants would say….
- I will commit myself to sitting down with family, friends, or community (depending on one’s state in life) every night for dinner. Finding that communal sense of meal is good for all of us.
- The one Lenten resolution of mine I choose to highlight is a Lenten eco-fast, in commitment to our common home. I will fast from: carbon output (i.e., use of my car — as much as is humanly possible, I will cycle or use public transportation); plastic in all forms, especially all varieties of plastic covers, bags, packaging, etc.), and I will abstain from all produce schlepped in from other continents, privileging locally-grown produce instead. On my daily walks, I will pick up and recycle all recyclable materials I see tossed by the wayside.
- I commit to trying each day and moment to live and speak and work with intentionality to heal the broken word and table we share in our nation today. This will involve listening more to the story of people’s lives and choosing to sit down with those whose hunger in these times is so different from mine. It seems to me the only way to reconcile what we have done and what we have failed to do. Maybe it will become a habit that will be too hard to break at Easter.
- I will never switch on the TV habitually or only because of boredom.
- As in the past few years, I will make a point of going to an interdenominational service of ashes.
- Our household Lenten practice this year will be the careful and considerate use of food – trying not to waste, and trying to use all that we have wisely. Particularly in American households, a significant percentage of groceries simply get thrown away. My husband and I will work to use the abundant blessings of our resources with greater respect – in our cooking, and in our creative use of leftovers!
- I will more consistently pray either morning or evening prayer. And since mornings are always a struggle…probably evening prayer. 🙂
A blessed Lent to all!