Throughout my Catholic life, for how many years during Lent did I give up the same thing, or do the same things? Too many. You may be thinking that too.
Sure any penance is good, and so is giving alms, prayer and other good acts, but how do I expect to grow in my spiritual life, if I always do the same things, and never move in a new direction?
If you followed my posts last year during Lent, you know that I felt inspired to do something different, something a little more difficult for me, and that really stretched me spiritually. Following an inspiration of Our Blessed Mother Mary, I began to wear the veil to Mass, and any time in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I wrote about it each week during Lent, and you can find the first part here: Wearing the Veil~ a Spiritual Journey with Our Lady.
Honestly, I have never looked back. Did it bring a new dimension to my prayer life? Absolutely. It also pushed me out of my comfort zone, enhanced my understanding of feminine beauty and modesty, tamped some of my pride and humbled me before the Lord, increased my desire to pray, gave me more courage, brought me to a greater empathy and love for my neighbor, quite literally drew me closer to Jesus, and our Blessed Mother, and profoundly showed me how Our Lord in the Eucharist is the remedy for all our ills, making me more keenly aware of the love and adoration Jesus deserves …who would have thought that prayerfully putting a piece of cloth over your head could do all that?
This Lent, I am following, and in the midst of, Nineveh 90, a world-wide crusade of prayer and penance. If you aren’t aware of it, it isn’t too late to start, and you can find it here: Nineveh 90. Don’t miss reading all the encouraging posts from past days!
Some of what is listed on Nineveh 90, I already do, but some of it I don’t do or rarely do and it is hard, so I know that those areas I really need to work on! You don’t have to do it all, but I suggest picking something that is really hard for you and stretches you. Getting your will to rule over your body and all its appetites, and comfortable ways is no easy task, and it takes prayer too. But it is a necessary thing for us to do if we are to get control of our vices, and grow in virtue.
Another way that I discovered has helped me to grow spiritually is to get outside of myself, and do some things that make me uncomfortable. We can’t grow in love for our neighbor if we close ourselves off in our comfortable spaces, or put invisible walls around us while looking at our phones, not paying attention to those around us. Some of the most rewarding things have happened to me, (although I didn’t do it for that reason) because I listened to that still small voice within, pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and talked to, helped, or prayed with someone, or just did something it seemed the Lord was leading me to do. Sometimes it means trying something new, moving in a different direction, or going with what may seem a crazy idea. I need to push myself more in this area again this Lent, so I will pray for and ask the Lord to give me opportunities to do this. You can do it too!
The team that I am a part of, in this newly renamed Laudare Outreach ministry, is trying something new and different this Lent too. They have worked really hard creating a series of videos, some funny, some serious, in order to create a different way to share our faith with the modern world. You can find them on Youtube here: Laudare Outreach videos. They may help stretch your spiritual life too, and then you can help by simply liking, subscribing and sharing the videos. And please keep Laudare Outreach in your prayers as well.
Don’t be afraid to do something different this Lent, stretch yourself to do more for Jesus, step onto another path that he is has led you to, and then see what good things come of it!
“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” 1 Peter 5: 8-9