What to do? What to do? How much time have you spent on what you should "GIVE UP" for Lent? Every year I agonize over my "Bona Opera" my good works. As a Benedictine Sister I'm required to complete my Bona Opera and turn it in to my prioress so she can give me her blessing for my good works during Lent.
The following is from the Rule of St. Benedict:
Rule of St. Benedict, ch. 49
At all times the lifestyle of a monk should have a Lenten quality. However, because few have that kind of strength, we urge them to guard their lives with all purity during these Lenten days. All should work together at effacing during this holy season the negligences of other times. The proper way to do this is to restrain ourselves from all evil habits and to devote ourselves to tearful prayer, reading, compunction of heart and asceticism. Therefore in these days, we should increase the regular measure of our service in the form of special prayers and abstinence from food and drink. In this way each one, of his own free will with the joy of the Holy Spirit, can offer God something beyond what is imposed on him. Let him deny his body some food, some drink, some sleep, some chatter, some joking and let him await Holy Easter with the joy of spiritual desire. Yet, let each one propose to his abbot what he wishes to offer (to God) so that it is done with his blessing and approval. For whatever is done without the permission of the spiritual father will be counted as presumption and vainglory, not reward. Therefore, everything is to be done with the abbot’s approval.
St. Benedict sure was wise...I guess that's why God called him to start the Benedictine way of life over 1500 years ago! Even though I agonize over my Lenten Practices...I take comfort in knowing that my Prioress is praying for me and gives me her blessing.
I am "giving up" some things...it just wouldn't be Lent for me if I didn't...but more importantly I decided that I am going to be more vigilant with the life that I am already living. Prayer is cental in the life of a Benedictine. If I'm not careful though, I can become stagnant in my everyday prayer life. I'm going to strive during these next 40 days to stay focused when I pray the Rosary, the Divine Office, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and when I spend time with my students in Adoration every Thursday.
I am fasting from sweets and bread...except for the bread of Christ which I receive at the Eucharist. But I'm also going to work hard to fast from idle gossip and laziness. I want to fast from things or behaviors that draw my attention away from Christ.
Because I promised to live a life of poverty, I really don't have money to donate to organizations in need. But I can give more of myself to those in need. One of my 6th grade students told me that during Lent she is going to put her needs last and the needs of others first. What a great practice! We can all give a smile, a high five, a hug, a warm welcome, a helping hand.
During this time of Lent we have 40 days to prepare our hearts and lives for the great miracle of Easter. Yes, today begins a time of fast...but it prepares us for the great feast of Easter! Let's pray for one another that our intentions and practices are pleasing to Jesus...who loves us so much and gladly sacrificed His life for us.