What to Give Up for Lent

Lent is the time of year in the church in which we reflect and prepare for Easter. We are asked to give up something that means a lot to us for 40 days as a way to represent Jesus’s sacrifice during his journey through the desert for that amount of time. Some people give up chocolate or other delicious treats, but what about giving up things that are not as traditional? Here are some items you could be giving up during Lent rather than just meat on Friday’s.

Caffeinated beverages

Whether it is coffee, tea, or soda, the common factor is that they all contain that lovely chemical caffeine that we use to wake up in the morning. You just have to put it in the big picture – what is 40 days in comparison to the other 325 days of the year? Absolutely nothing. Why not try a nice herbal tea or green juice instead? They tend to give me a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon when I notice myself nodding off.

Items from your closet

I recently read an article online explaining how we should take an item from our closet each day during Lent, and at the end of the 40 days donate it to Goodwill. This could be anything from clothing you never wear, shoes that are no longer your style, or accessories/bags that you never use anymore. There are plenty of people out there who would love and appreciate your unused items. It’s a win-win for both!

Smartphone

Now I’m not saying to give up your iPhone, but perhaps give up the “smart” part of your phone. That is the part we are most addicted to. Has anyone emailed me about my resume? Did you see the latest cat video on YouTube? Use your phone for what it was meant for – to call people!

Paper Waste

I tease my colleague that she is a “tree killer” because she uses the office printer constantly! Don’t worry – she knows it’s a joke! But one thing you can do is waste less paper and make an impact on the environment. Parish Giving can help with that! Save your church envelope and paper check, and sign up for e-giving instead.

Parish Giving also has graphics to put in your weekly church bulletin to advertise your parish’s e-giving program. That means you no longer have to contact us, ask for a certain amount of inserts, wait for them to be delivered in a cardboard box, and hand them out to parishioners. Now you can just paste it into your bulletin and not use any extra paper!

Remember that Lent is a time to sacrifice and accomplish something you didn’t know you could. These are just some examples of what you can give up. Just try to commit to something for 40 days and see what you can accomplish!

Preparing for Lent

Waking up this morning and I could smell spring trying to emerge. The birds are out chirping, but the weatherman is still predicting another snow storm. March is on the verge of arriving, but we are still stuck in February. This does mean that Lent is around the corner and we should begin to prepare for it. The only thing is how do we prepare for Lent? Well, I have come up with a couple of ways in which we should begin to prepare for the Easter season.

What does my heart and soul need?

This is a question I ask myself daily. All of our hearts and souls need to be nourished differently. For some, it may be daily meditation, and for others, it may be quietly listening. Either way, it should be able to help us focus on the Lenten message. This year’s message is about heart and soul. Pope Francis reminds us that the other person is a gift, sin blinds us, and the Word is a gift. Keep this in mind when you are listening to your heart and soul.

What about my life makes me happy?

We all have things in our lives that make us unhappy. Why don’t we for once focus on what makes us happy? For instance, we should be happy to have our health, a roof over our head and food on the table. There are plenty of people who would love to have one of the items mentioned. Find something about your life that makes you happy and focus on it. Not only will it make your day better, but the positivity can be contagious.

Stop and listen.

This brings all of the Lenten preparation together. Think about what Pope Francis told us about in his message: Lent is a new beginning… and you should be using it to deepen your faith and friendship with Jesus. He is our gift, helps us refrain from sin, and we should live His word.

The best way to Stop and Listen is to attend mass during Lent with a renewed thirst for Jesus. You are being led on how to love and listen which is what the season is all about. Remember, the most important thing is to attend mass, and you are able to give your offering online with Parish Giving. You just worry about listening and worry less about checks, envelopes, and cash. We can take care of that for you.      

Love One Another A Follow-up to #SelfloveSunday

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. John 13:34

We often associate this time of the year with Valentine’s Day. For some, the hunt is on for a significant other if they do not have one already. For others, it is time to look within themselves. We know we have to love ourselves before we can love someone else, but what about our neighbor?  Just keep in mind, it is all about love.

Who is your neighbor?

We often ponder the above question. Who is our neighbor? Is it strictly the person next door, or is it people who live around you? Well, your neighbor is anyone you interact with. The woman who is at the grocery store hoping her check doesn’t bounce when buying food; it’s the man driving around in the fancy car; it’s the kid’s playing outside in their tree house. All of these people are your neighbor.

Ways to love your neighbor.

There is no right or wrong way to love your neighbor, but there are multiple ways you can show your love. Some ways are:   

•    Giving Blood – the American Red Cross is always looking for all blood types. Don’t wait for a natural disaster to donate.

•    Say please and thank you and mean it. They go a long way and make people feel good when you use them.

•    Recycle. Whether it is just rinsing out a jar of peanut butter, or using reusable bags, we should all do our part in keeping our community nice. This also means keeping litter off of our streets. If you see some, pick it up! No one enjoys driving down roads and seeing trash along the side of it.

•    Adopt a soldier. Think about if your son or daughter was far away from home – wouldn’t you want them to have a family to visit for the holidays? If you live in a military enriched community, think about having some young recruits over for a Sunday dinner. I’m sure they’d appreciate a home-cooked meal.

•    Volunteer at Vacation Bible School. Parish Giving is a big advocate for VBS! So much so that we have online forms to make those who work and volunteer at the parish lives much easier. We keep you organized so you can focus on educating young minds.

Why should we love our neighbor?

If we want to live in an enriched community, love is always the first step. You need to love yourself and love your neighbor. Once you have done that, volunteer your time (if you have any available) to help deepen the lives around you. Spread the word of loving your neighbor because if you do not, then who will?

Love Yourself First #SelfloveSunday Series

Some of us are familiar with the hashtag #SelfloveSunday. People take pictures with their coffee in their comfiest sweats and profess their self-love. Well, what if there is more to loving yourself than drinking a fancy pour over in their designer sweats that you worked so hard for? What if loving yourself has more to do with how you approach viewing yourself and having the world see you? What if it meant loving your imperfections and finding strength in them? That is what #Selflove is about.

Maya Angelou once said, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody”. Sometimes knowing yourself can be mistaken for being overly confident or conceited. Reciting Maya Angelou’s quote allows us to see that this is not true. Knowing yourself and loving yourself is pretty powerful, and not many of us can say we do.

So this made me think, how do we learn to love ourselves? I have 5 steps that will lead to some real #SelfloveSundays that are more Instagram ready than fancy lattes in bed.

Have Grit

Grit is a word that has multiple meanings to multiple people. Grit is similar to gumption – go out and get it. Take that solo adventure, go out to dinner by yourself, or apply for a promotion/school that may be out of reach. Prove to yourself that yes, you can do it. Take pride in yourself and see what you can do. Be daring. Once the adventure is over, you will have more respect for yourself, and therefore more love.

Find Happiness

We’ve all been in a rut. Our life is sometimes on autopilot. We get up, drive to work in the same traffic, go through the same motions, and come home. We do this five days a week. It becomes a bit monotonous, which can also mean boring or dull. When I’m bored, I find myself lacking happiness. I have to break out of the everyday rut, and find my own joy.

It’s sometimes difficult breaking out of your rut, so you sometimes have to be a bit creative. I enjoy taking a different kind of workout class during evenings after work. From aerobics to yoga, I have tried it all. Another way to find happiness is to wear an article of clothing (or accessory) that makes you glow from the inside. I have a pair of bowtie oxfords in pink and purple. When I put them on, I feel as though I can take on the world! That is pure happiness to me.

Meditate

Sometimes you need 5 minutes for yourself. Working 8-hour days, driving in traffic to work each day, and then coming home to family and noise; you just need 5 minutes to recover. Just sit cross legged and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try not to think about anything while doing this. You will feel the weight of the world being lifted off of your shoulders with regular practice. With less weight, you feel lighter and happier.

Cater to you

If you are like most of us, you put yourself last. Stop. You are no good to others if you are not your own priority. Just like you need your 5 minutes of meditation at the end of each work day, you also need to put yourself first. Do not think of this as being selfish, but rather love. Loving yourself allows you to love others around you.

Mass

As usual, I save the best step for last. Just sitting and listening helps to calm our nerves. When you listen to someone preaching about love, it becomes second nature to love yourself.

If you find yourself at mass without your church envelope, do not fret! You can go home and sign up for Parish Giving. In the back of the church you can find cards that state, “I participate in the ‘Electric Giving Program’” in case you feel the need to put something in the offertory basket.

Remember #SelfloveSunday this weekend. Enjoy your coffee in your sweats, or your time at mass. Either way, use that time to find love within yourself.