How to Have a Fruitful Lent

by Helen Young


From the USSCB:

  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
  • For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
  • Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.
  • If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

How to have a transformational Lent (suggestion of Dan Burke).  Focus on two things:

  1.  Pick something you will give up during Lent ( a good thing) and which you can joyfully do again at the feast of the Resurrection
  2. Pick one thing your will retain as a spiritual focus point for the rest of the year (pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you an area)

Getting Serious:

  1.  Make a solemn commitment and write it down
  2. Be specific
  3. Ask God for the Grace you to fulfill it
  4. Aggressively seek accountability and daily Examen

Three days until Ash Wednesday

Three days left to prepare to have the most fruitful Lent you’ve ever had!

How often do we wait until the last minute, either Tuesday night before or Ash Wednesday morning, to decide what to ‘give up’ or ‘take on’ without prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in the right direction? We are just checking the box of being a good Catholic Christian and giving up something for Lent without stopping to think about why it is that we have this season of Lent.

What the Lord really wants from us all the time is all of our love. He wants our hearts, minds and souls – radical self-giving.   And what we mostly give Him is a little bit of affection.  Let’s be radical this Lent and pray and discern exactly where in our lives it is that we most need to let God in and the Light purify us so that we can give more of ourselves to Him and let His love change us.   Let’s examine our lives in light of these sins and see where it is we need to focus, be it:

  • gluttony (lack of control over what we eat or drink)
  • sloth (no time to pray, skipping Mass, not going to confession, spending too much time on computers or devices)
  • pride (I’m in control of my life and I don’t need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His will not mine, I have it all together and don’t need to stop and ask God what His will is, I know all of the answers to everything)
  • vanity (what others think of me is more important than what God thinks of me and controls my actions and I contort myself to please others)
  • anger (am I impatient with my family members or co-workers, do I lose my cool in traffic, do I sometimes totally blow my fuse)
  • lust (can be sexual or material, does my desire for sexual pleasure or sensual appetites control my thoughts)
  • envy (do I spend a lot of time on social media comparing my life to others and wanting what they have instead of being grateful for the many blessing God provides)

Over the next three days, let us all pick one area where we will hone in and with God’s help and the grace of the sacraments try to grow spiritually and weed out the vice and grow in virtue. 

Remember an action plan is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Be specific when you write out your Lenten plan.


As an example:

I am going to work on self-control for Lent, because my root sin is sensuality, my virtue struggle is temperance, and my temperament is mostly Sanguine ( I hop from thing to thing spiritually, need focus).  I hope to get out of myself and not think about pleasure so much.  I desire to focus more on and think about God more than Helen. I also desire to be love in the community in the way God calls me to do that.  Focus on love.

  • What am I giving up?
    • I am giving up coffee (super hard)
    • I am not buying anything for myself, giving up greed
    • When I go out to eat, I will pick my second choice not my first choice
  • What am I taking on?
    • Reading I Believe in Love and Consecration to Divine Mercy
    • Praying Divine Mercy Chaplet every day (this will continue after Lent)
  • Almsgiving
    • Giving money to Hermits of Mt Carmel, Sisters in Arizona, Sisters of Life

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