6 Tips to Get You Through a Mid-Lent Slump
How is your Lent going?! Great, or not so great? Feeling like it is a long way to Holy Week? Has your Lent felt like a complete disaster so far? Are you feeling a bit sick of it all?! If your Lent has stalled- did you start with plans that were too much? Or did you begin with no idea how to begin? Either extreme means things might have fizzled out half way through. But fear not! Here are our 6 tips to help you reengage with Lent.
Practice Gratitude in the Moment
Whenever I want to start over, I always think: “I’ll start over later, tomorrow, when I’ve got time to sit down and take stock and begin again.” Inevitably, that moment never happens, because I don’t make it happen. I don’t start over in the heat of the battle. So the battle never ends. If you feel like you’re drifting through Lent, don’t wait for the perfect time to restart. It won’t happen- there isn’t a perfect time. So wherever you are, stop, give yourself a few spare minutes, and thank God for, say, ten things about your day or your life right now. Gratitude helps turn our hearts back to God when we don’t know where to begin.
Ask Yourself What You Have Learnt So Far
When the road ahead looks long, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve already come. So ask yourself, what have you learnt so far this Lent? If the answer is ‘nothing’: ask yourself again! It doesn’t have to be anything specifically Lent related. Maybe God has been working in your life in a way you didn’t realise. Maybe there is something nagging you in the back of your mind that He wants you to look at. Or maybe you learnt something through what you have given up or taken up that has surprised you. Remind yourself why you started and rejoice in what you have learnt so far!
Enter the Desert: Give Yourself a Retreat
Not everyone is going to have the luxury of being able to go away on a retreat between now and Easter. But is there a day, half day, or even just an evening between now and then that you could turn into a mini retreat for yourself? If you have a busy family life, this may not be possible- or you might wish to include them in your plans too. Ideas could include: a special visit to Adoration, making time for Confession, going on a walk (without your headphones on) journaling, art, reading the Sunday gospel, spending some time in silence, and of course, prayer. Put all the distractions (TV, radio, internet, phone, music etc) away for a set period of time and enter into some quality time with God.
Have a Movie Night
I know this may not be the most conventional way to re-engage with Lent, especially when it is so good to have some time away from the distractions of technology- but there are some plus sides too! Watching something- whether it’s a movie about the Easter story (Jesus of Nazareth or The Passion of Christ for example)- or some online talks or retreats (The Wild Goose
or Fr Robert Barron’s excellent resources on www.wordonfire.org)
can be a powerful way to leave the lethargy behind. Whatever you watch, watch it actively, not passively, engage with the material, make notes if necessary and always follow it up with prayer time. If you’re watching a movie on the Crucifixion of Christ, it’s always good to reread the Gospel stories too. Movies can be a powerful way to imagine and feel exactly what is was like in the moment, but nothing is as powerful as simplicity of the words of the Gospel.
If You Didn’t Start Lent with a Plan, Make One Now
Lent isn’t meant to be a competition of who can give up the most, or be the most holy. It is meant to be a time of renewal, of clearing out the junk in our lives and letting Springtime enter our hearts. But let us also not forget that it is a time of friendship, of walking with Christ through His time in the desert. So when I say, ‘make a plan’ I don’t mean, sit down and work out how you can cram in everything in the next few weeks. Instead, ask yourself, “how can I plan my day so that there is a way that I can best grow in time spent with Christ?”. Are there distractions that you can cut down on? Is there an empty space in your day that you could spend it prayer? Could you put down your phone and engage in conversations more?
Finally, Just Walk Quietly and Humbly with Your God
As we get ever nearer to Holy Week, remember God wants us as much as we want Him. As good and wonderful all the extra things we may be doing or giving up for Lent are, remember to get to the heart of what this is. Read the Gospel passages of Christ’s return to Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the Way of the Cross. The words of Pope Francis in Evangelii Guadium are beautiful here:
‘Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!’
Come into Christ’s embrace, and grow in His love, so that together, we can walk through the events of Holy Week with Him, and rejoice with Him on the other side!