Accompaniment and Lent
The forty days of Lent can seem like a long time, especially if one is giving up a favorite food or video game. It's helpful to have a friend to keep us going. He or she can encourage us, challenge us, and pick us up if we falter. In fact, that kind of accompaniment - a holy friendship developed out of mutual love for one another and a desire to walk with one another into deeper relationship with Jesus - is the heart of evangelization and discipleship.
This year, consider finding an accompaniment partner and approaching Lent as a team. That doesn't mean you have to give up—or do—the same exact things, although that's a possibility. It does mean sharing your Lenten resolution(s) and asking for each other's prayers and active support. People often find that they're much more likely to keep their resolutions when they hold themselves accountable to another person. Knowing that someone walks with us, even if it's not exactly the same path, can be a great comfort and motivator.
If you're thinking about Lenten resolutions, consider the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (works of charity). Here are some ideas to get started.
Prayer is the foundation of Christian life. Lent is an excellent time to evaluate our prayer life and, if necessary, make improvements. Have I been faithful to prayer each day? Have I used Scripture, spiritual books, and other resources to deepen my prayer? Do I try to listen as well as speak? A few suggestions:
- Set aside a time for prayer each day. It can be the same time, or different times depending on your schedules. If your accompaniment partner is your spouse and you are parents, take turns looking after the kids so that each of you can have quiet time.
- Watch a video reflection on the day's scripture readings and exchange an insight or two.
- Spouses often have a hard time praying together. If you'd like to try to pray together but need help to get started, try...
- Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Most parishes have added times for Confession during Lent.
Fasting can take various forms. Giving up a favorite food or drink is a tangible reminder of our commitment to draw closer to Christ. Or we can fast from a non-productive behavior or attitude. Some ideas:
- Participate in your parish's weekly soup supper, or serve a simple supper in your home once or twice each week.
- Give up a video game, TV program, or social networking site. Use the time to do some spiritual reading, visit an elderly relative, or help your children learn a new skill.
- "Fast" from negative comments, put-downs, and sarcastic remarks to and about your family members. Apologize if you slip up.
Many parishes offer extra opportunities for works of charity and service during Lent. Consider making a commitment that will last beyond the Lenten season. Here are some suggestions:
- Take out your household budget and review your charitable contributions. Do you need to increase them or change the allocations to the various charitable organizations?
- Do you volunteer in your parish or community? If so, discuss how you can support each other. If you're not already a volunteer, prayerfully discern whether you are called to some kind of service.
- Simplify your life. Clean out a drawer, closet, or other storage area each day during Lent and give unneeded but usable clothes and household items to charitable organizations.
Adapted from an article originally posted on the For Your Marriage website.
Copyright © 2015, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Reprinted and adpated with permission.