Today is Ash Wednesday, or a few days after. Not too late to make Lenten resolutions. Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to Lent? Do you find yourself making the same resolution year after year? And maybe breaking it year after year? I wonder how many people, both children and adults, give up candy for Lent every year. For your consideration this week, I offer ten somewhat different resolutions that will bolster your spiritual life.
- Once on her way to Bingo, my mother found a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk, which she promptly spent at the church. Leave twenty-dollar bills for others to find: in a library book, in the pocket of a dress, pants, or a coat you donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or on a bus seat. Imagine the joy that will bring to the person who discovers it.
- Most of our communication these days is through emails and texting. Eventually the words disappear into thin air. I treasure handwritten letters that I received from family members long ago. Write a letter to someone, maybe even one a week.
- Go to Mass fifteen minutes early or stay fifteen minutes later and spend that time in prayer, especially for world peace.
- Invite someone (a neighbor, an estranged relative, a stranger) to share in a family meal at least once a week.
- Instead of giving up meat or dessert, and enjoying fish fries, eat something you don’t care for but that is good for you. For me, this would be kale.
- You know that person you don’t like? Maybe someone who hurt you? Go to the parish office and schedule a Mass said for him or her. (We don’t need to wait until he or she dies.)
- Bite your tongue when you are about to complain about something or say something negative. Instead put a smile on your face. This will make those around you happier and yourself too. At the end of the day you might tally how many times you caught yourself.
- Be mindful of the Guardian Angels. When you are tempted or in trouble, ask your Guardian Angel for help. Ask other people’s Guardian Angels to help them when they are in need. This may become a lifelong habit.
- Many people are very much aware of what is going on in Washington these days. Make it a point to learn about what is going on in our church. Subscribe to Zenit.com to read Pope Francis’s daily homilies and talks. Subscribe to a Catholic magazine or newspaper.
- Do something to pamper yourself throughout Lent. After all, our chief responsibility is to care for ourselves. We are to love ourselves. So take a bubble bath, get a new hairdo, sit in the sun awhile doing nothing, take a day off work, or call a friend who always lifts your spirits.
Any of these suggestions will aid you in keeping the Ash Wednesday exhortation you might have heard as your forehead was signed with a black cross: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Then someday after you have returned to the dust we were made from, you may rise to a life of glory that is the Easter promise.
Can you think of any other unusual Lenten resolutions to add to this list?
(Just thought of another one: Spend ten minutes a day learning Spanish or another language.)
BOOK REVIEW “Go Teach!” And Jesus Showed Us How
Regina Alfonso, SND 154 pp., $11.95
Jesus was a master teacher who held crowds of thousands spellbound. Two thousand years later we still benefit from his teachings. In her book “Go Teach!” And Jesus Showed Us How, Sister Regina looks to Jesus for methods and tips for teachers today. She studies him as he teaches large and small groups as well as individuals. She watches him adapt to different learning styles, utilize concrete things, and engage and correct students. Then she applies the wisdom she gleaned from Jesus to today’s classrooms.
Any teacher, but in particular religion teachers and catechists, will discover in this book ways to hone their teaching skills. Because the book is Gospel-based, at the same time teachers will also be meeting Jesus in his Word and getting to know him better.
The book’s text is set in sense lines rather than block paragraphs, inviting the reader to read slowly, to reflect on the messages, and to absorb them.
Anyone, teacher or not, would profit from reading this book.
“Go Teach” was originally published by Alba House in 1986, as How Jesus Taught: Methods and Techniques of the Master. People who were disappointed when that book went out of print can now rejoice at its resurrection as a new and improved version.