Lent is more than just a long runway to the high energy of Holy Week and the Resurrection of Christ; Lent is a season of the church that allows for self-reflection, refinement, and self-care. Here are five ways you can prepare for a Holy Lent.
1. Start moving
Being both body and soul, we forget how much the body influences the soul. Take the time to start moving your body. These are precious moments that we spend with ourselves and our inner world. We think about things. We work out problems. We process. Tuning into where you are in your heart and mind. Notice how our hearts are engaged. Our hearts are continuing despite adversity, overcoming the physical limitations of the body, allowing us to be vulnerable in our level of fitness, humbled by the physical exertion.
Feeding our brains is a good thing. Even if it has been a while since you’ve dived into a spiritual text, there are options throughout the diocese for Lenten book studies on all types of topics. And if not a book study, just try reading an entire article instead of skimming a headline or a paragraph. The mind, like any muscle, needs to be used to stay strong. Using our minds more often helps deepen the understanding of our faith.
3. Lenten Resolutions?
You don’t have to pick a resolution to have a Holy Lent, but Lent is the time to start thinking about what areas of your life need to be revived. A good examination of conscience can direct resolutions that are personally right for you, and help you see your Lenten goals more clearly.
4. Consider the Sacrament of Confession
Confession is not something we, as Episcopalians, often think of as a one-on-one experience, but confession can be an opportunity to talk about our problems in confidence, knowing that anything and everything we say will be kept in trust. This is an opportunity not only to admit our weaknesses but to hear a different perspective from a non-judging person. Confession can be a powerful sacrament during your Lenten preparations.
You don’t have to be in the mood, you don’t have to have energy, and you don’t have to have anything to say for your prayer to be a good one. What matters is you prayed. Prayer is powerful, not only during Lenten disciplines, but throughout life, as a means of centering the soul, cultivating a kind heart, and joining alongside those in pain.
“Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker, and redeemer.” BCP 264-265
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