Lent is a beautiful time to grow as a person. It’s an excellent opportunity to reset your attitude, deepen your love for God, and become a better Catholic and individual.
What I have discovered as a busy Catholic parent and someone who is active in ministry work is if I don’t plan, it doesn’t happen. The truth is, we need to not only plan, but we need to discern what the Lord is asking of us. If we pause for a few minutes and spend time in prayer discerning our Lent, it will be far more fruitful. Jesus offers us all a unique opportunity to fall in love with Him through prayer, sacrifice, almsgiving, and penance.
Since writing my new book, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: 12 Ways to Claim Jesus’ Promises in Your Life, I have come to first and foremost see that real transformation begins with the heart. That is the greatest calling, to love the Lord Our God above all, with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. Our love for Christ needs to be above our careers, our attachments, and even our family.
Our love of God should be attractive and help others love God. If our love of God isn’t felt or seen by others, we need to seek a spiritual heart transplant that only Jesus can give, which perfectly fits the season of Lent.
So let us ask the Lord to help us engage our hearts this Lent with love. For Lent isn’t Catholic New Years’, where we pick resolutions based on saving money for the sake of saving or dieting to be ready for the beach in May. Lent is an opportunity to grow closer to our Lord, to experience a transformation from the inside out. The journey of Lent can be challenging at times, and yet, this is where we grow, where we are transformed, and where we can give witness to others, especially our family members, that faith is essential.
Lent is an opportunity to grow through intentional moments as we participate in this beautiful season of growth. Here are Ten Ways to Grow Closer to the Heart of Jesus and experience the spiritual heart transplant we desire:
- Allow the Holy Eucharist to be Your Strength– The other day, my friend said, “I am off to radiation treatment. I need to go to adoration frequently to get the spiritual treatment I need each day, through the rays of love.” The reality is, the more we go to Mass and spend time with the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, the greater our devotion grows.
- Go to Confession– Make an appointment on your calendar to receive God’s healing and forgiveness this Lent. You will gain new graces to help you in your vocation. Check out your local bulletin for times of Lenten Reconciliation services near you. If you have not gone to Reconciliation in a while, make it a priority.
- Have a Heart to Heart with the Sacred Heart– Jesus, meek, and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine. Each morning, offer your heart to the Lord as he offered His to us in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What could be a more fabulous gift this Lent than this? Imagine if we all were willing to allow Jesus into not only our messy lives but our very own imperfect and broken hearts. Jesus reveals so to heal. To learn more read the Secrets of the Sacred Heart:12 Ways to Claim Jesus’ Promises in Your Life and download a free journal here.
- Work on Your Morning Prayer Routine- Start your day with the readings and unite yourself with Mother Church. Check out the www.usccb.org website for daily readings. They even offer an audio version for people on the go! Morning prayer time is essential to growing closer to Jesus. If you have trouble remembering and forging the habit, get a new coffee mug with a prayer or spiritual symbol on it that will remind you to say your morning prayers. I have a Morning Offering prayer on mine. This is a great way to form a new habit of prayer!
- Add Prayer Petitions to Your Calendar– List names of friends, family, and acquaintances for whom you want to offer your special prayers and works on each day of your calendar. It is much easier to offer up your trials, tasks, and prayers when you think of others.
- Break Bad Habits – What habits or sins hold you back? Ask Jesus to show you areas of your life where you need grace. The Sacred Heart, His Heart, wants to reveal so to heal. Is it your temper? Your addictions? Your habits of spending money you don’t even have? Or even the simple daily routine of indulging in too many conveniences? Jesus is asking us to hand these habits over to Him, so He can give us the strength we need to move forward. If you have sinful habits that need to end, Lent is the time to work at breaking them.
- Unplug and Refocus on What Matters- Work on developing “screen-free” moments that can last hours, days, or even weeks. Develop a time rack day or week where everyone in your family puts their phones down and interacts in a meaningful way.
- Have a Heart to Heart with Your Spouse- Set just a few minutes aside each night to pray with each other. It can be a simple decade of the Rosary, sharing your prayer intentions, or spontaneous prayer. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but take it slowly and allow this beautiful new habit to develop. Imagine 40 days of praying with your spouse and the impact it can make in your relationship? Make room for Jesus in your marriage.
- Declutter- Make it your goal to keep a clean car and home all during Lent. Take some time to work on keeping things neat and orderly. Remember to have your children help, and remind them to offer it up and do it without complaining! When we are better stewards of our things, we grow in our appreciation of our many blessings.
- Keep an Eye on How You Spend Your Time– “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27. We all need to wind down at the end of the day, but be careful not to “check-out” from your family and their needs. Idleness is defined as laziness or sloth. Even with the pandemic, we can learn new skills, pick up old hobbies, and dust off our workbenches in the basement. As many of your listeners, my parents have been at home for basically a year. After cleaning the house numerous times, they are now writing the story of their life. They said it had been a real gift to write down their childhood memories and stories “just for them.”
A great thing about Lent is that it offers a specific season of growth if we make the most of the opportunity and plugin. In the end, it is up to us to do so.