I recently wrote an article for Ignitum Today about understanding our dustiness and being able to find our worth in being able to join Christ on the cross. So I decided to make a list of simple ways we can do that. Maybe we only choose to handle a few, or maybe we attempt to do each one at least once. You can always add your own goals to make a list of your own.
1. Make one simple sacrifice, even if it's only once. That could be your favorite drink, food, TV show or anything else that you regularly treat yourself to.
2. When having an argument with someone, try to let him speak first. Truly listen to what he is saying and let him finish his explanation. Don't think about your response until he is done and you understand him.
3. Be humble enough to ask for help. If you are used to doing everything yourself, try involving a family member or spouse. Also, be thankful even if the job wasn't done to your liking.
4. If you usually have trouble praying by yourself, ask someone to pray with you. I find this is the easiest way to tackle a rosary that I generally find myself distracted through.
5. If you know someone who is having a hard time, take at least five minutes to pray for him/her right away and maybe even respond and send a reassuring message.
6. If you have a family member who is difficult to interact with, make a point to be extra nice, even if it's just being a little more patient within one encounter. If this proves to be difficult, simply pray for God to bless him.
7. Make time for your spouse at least once during Lent. If your schedules are hectic, make a point of saying no to a commitment or personal engagement to spend at least an hour with your spouse. If you regularly have time together, maybe add some effort to make the time more special. This could be through not complaining or criticizing, praying together, or simply doing something that draws the focus on each other.
8. If someone does or says something you disagree with, don't criticize right away. Think of the intentions and why the person said or did something. Words or actions that seem ridiculous or stupid to you may take on a completely different meaning for the other person. In other words, be charitable and understanding. Also, if you struggle with nagging, try once or twice to hold back.
9. Do something to care for your parish priest. Offer to cook a meal appropriate for Lent, do a chore around the parish or rectory, or simply say a novena for him.
10. Do a complete examination of conscience and take it to confession. Write it down and throw it away if you have to.
11. Take the time to learn about your faith and get any questions you have about Catholicism answered.
12. Look into resources to better understand the Mass.
13. Try to be more present when you take communion via meditation, journaling, prayer recitation, or simply being more aware of Jesus.
14. Read through the lives of the Saints and find your new best friend.
15. Read a short book or chapter from a book that is spiritually nourishing.
16. Before ranting or complaining, take the time to say a prayer and ask for God's guidance. It may be wise to still seek the counsel of others, but make sure you turn to God first.
17. If social media is sucking up a lot of your time, try to cut it down or out of your life completely for Lent.
18. Take the time to thoughtfully encourage at least two people.
19. Choose to forgive one person. You could write a letter (whether you send it or not), pray for him/her, or ask God to take away your consternation with the situation.
20. Do something to care for yourself. It may be choosing something healthier, avoiding stressful situations, spending time outside, asking for prayers, finding an activity that makes you happy, or finding a small prayer that speaks to you.
This list may contain things you are already doing, but if you have any suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments! We can all contribute in making Lent a time to better encounter Jesus!