The countdown to Holy Week has begun, and for some of us that’s an unwelcome reminder that we’ve become less enthusiastic or energetic about the Lenten practice or discipline we selected back at the beginning of March. Forty days is a long time, and giving up one thing, or adding on something else, can become difficult to maintain over time.
The good news is that you’re not alone: a lot of Lenten practices don’t make it through the season. No one does everything they planned to do during Lent—that’s part of being human! God isn’t grading you on how well you did; the point is to increase your closeness with God and your capacity to love him.
So what can you do, now, before Holy Week begins, to re-center and re-energize your spiritual life? Keep it small, and keep it simple!
- Pray every morning. When you get up, thank God for the new day. Say an Our Father while you’re getting dressed. That’s all: keep it small, and keep it simple. When you start the day with prayer, you’re starting it right.
- Do some good works. Both the Spiritual Works of Mercy and the Corporal Works of Mercy give you a plethora of opportunities to reach out to others this Lent. Choose a couple to perform between now and Holy Week.
- Read Scripture. Remind yourself of the story that is unfolding throughout Lent. You can’t just jump into Holy Week; read the Gospels that bring you up to Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
- Examine your conscience. This is a helpful and simple Ignatian practice. Before you go to bed, review your day. Ask yourself if you’ve done your best, and resolve to do better tomorrow.
There are many useful Lenten practices and disciplines, but the best ones are the ones that actually work, that bring you into a closer relationship with God and that help you express love for God’s people and God’s creation. The best Lenten rule of all? Keep it small, and keep it simple.