By Emily Mendez

Connecting Faith and Life

We are coming to the middle of the season of Lent and it is a good time to check-in. Did you start out strong and have now lost steam? Did you have good intentions but have been “busy”? Do not worry! There is still time to turn back to God with your whole heart.  My goal is to present some ideas for your inspiration and allow the Holy Spirit to enter and lead you to a deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  

Let’s start with the sacraments. What about adding a weekday Mass if your schedule allows? Go every day if you can! Find a time to go for Confession. Take the whole family and go for ice cream afterward to celebrate God’s forgiveness! Share with your children your experience of the sacraments and how they help you go deeper in your relationship with God. Invite your children or friends to visit the Blessed Sacrament in an adoration chapel. If your children are little, stay a short time. Even if you are there for ten minutes you and your kids are exposed to so much grace and it opens the conversation to talk with them about what adoration is and why it is good to visit Jesus.

Next, focus on your prayer life. Find a time every day to be intentional about prayer. Routine is powerful and if you can find a way to make prayer part of your routine you are less likely to make it to the end of the day and realize you have not prayed. Praying first thing in the morning is a great way to “put God first.” Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. If you have little kids, give them a children’s Bible and read to them one story every morning. Pray with scripture doing Lectio Divina or Ignatian Imaginative Prayer. Put on praise and worship music and sing together praising the Lord and dancing with joy. Prayer does not have to be still and quiet (especially if you have little kids)! Go on a pilgrimage as a family or group of friends. Pick a holy site (a beautiful church, a monastery, a grotto, a meaningful grave) and pray together along the way and when you arrive. Pray the Rosary. Pick a discipline to help you grow. For example, make your bed every day and make it an offering of prayer. As you straighten the sheets and covers, pray for a special intention like the healing of someone you know who is sick or the conversion of a loved one.

Fasting is an important part of Lent. Our fasting can be from food and our physical hunger can put us in touch with our deeper hunger for God. We also can be creative about fasting from other things, with the intention of coming closer to God. Give up social media and fill the loneliness with prayer and friendship with God. Give up sweets and fill the cravings with awareness of craving what only God can give and pray to receive it. Many children love the challenge of giving up something for Lent. Help guide them to the deeper meaning so that as they discover their will-power to pass up something they also discover their longing for God and their will-power to pass up sin. 

Almsgiving is a spiritual practice of Lent and it directs our relationship with God to impact our relationship with other people. We can give money and volunteer in all the usual charitable ways. We can also reach out to the spiritually poor around us. Visit the elderly who live alone. Take flowers to a nursing home and ask who does not receive regular visitors. Help your kids make cards and send them to someone you have been praying for. Send an anonymous donation to someone you know is struggling. Be generous with your time. Put your phone down and notice the people around you. Take your teenager out for coffee and really listen to what they have to say about life.  

There is still time to make the most of this Lenten season. And, if you come to read this article after Lent, don’t worry, every day is an opportunity to return to God with our whole hearts through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.