Three Cheers for Lent!

Three Cheers for Lent!Ash Wednesday is this week and as you can tell from the title of this post, I’m excited about the arrival of Lent! For a lot of people, Lent is about “giving up” something, such as candy, or coffee or whatever. Some people consider the penances of Lent a drudgery. And that’s too bad. Lent isn’t about giving up something and then becoming frustrated with oneself for failing to live up to one’s promises. That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for! Now, I’m not saying not to give up something for Lent. I am giving up something, but Lent is more than that.

Lent is about renewal!

New Year’s is a time when many people make resolutions to lose weight, do this, don’t do that. August/September is the beginning of a new school year and a time when kids (and adults) resolve to make “this year better than last year.” And technically, everyday is a chance for a restart. But Lent is unique. Lent is a time that is especially meant for a spiritual renewal, almost even more so than the Advent/Christmas Season. It is a time to recalibrate our souls and remind ourselves of what is important in life. It is a time to refocus and rekindle (or deepen) our relationship with Jesus, with the Blessed Trinity.

The purpose of the “mandates” of Lent: prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving is to help us go deeper into the truths of our faith and our relationship with Christ, NOT to give us yet another thing to do or not do for the next six weeks. So, I’d like to invite you to rethink your strategy for Lent this year. If you have been in the habit of giving up something for Lent and it hasn’t worked for ya, how about instead of giving up something, give yourself something. Here are four things you can give yourself:

1. Give yourself the gift of Confession. If you haven’t been to the Sacrament of reconciliation in a while, now would be a good time to go. The Church requires Catholic to go to Confession at least once a year for a reason. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing and an opportunity to encounter Christ in a very special way.

2. Give yourself the gift of the Eucharist. If you aren’t in the habit of going to daily mass, now would be a great time to start – even if it just one or two days a week – or just on Saturdays. The readings for Lent are just as powerful during the week as they are on Sundays.

3. Give yourself the gift of prayer. The rosary is a particularly powerful prayer and it is a wonderful way to meditate on the mysteries of Our Lord’s Life, Death and Resurrection. It is even better if you can pray together as a family. Many Churches offer the Stations of the Cross each Friday which is a beautiful way to enter one’s self into Our Lord’s suffering. If you can’t do that, try to just spend five minutes or so reading the Bible and/or sitting quietly before the Lord.

4. Give yourself the gift of intention. Finally, above all, no matter what you do the Lent, let it be intentional and focused. Be fully present to your devotions, family or whatever it is you are doing/not doing for Lent. That alone will transform your Lenten experience!

Now, let’s support each other. Tell me, what are you doing for Lent this year? What are you going to do/not do in order to truly deepen your relationship with Jesus and renew your spirit this season? By putting it out there, it will help you stay accountable and give me the opportunity to pray for you!


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How to Make a Spiritual Bouquet

In my Ten Ideas for Hostess Gifts post a while ago, I mentioned that a great gift would be to make a spiritual bouquet. A spiritual bouquet is very easy and fun to make. You can make a spiritual bouquet for lots of occasions besides hostess gifts, such as birthdays, get well, holidays, feast days or for no occasion at all. 🙂  The effort and thought that goes into creating a spiritual bouquet is always appreciated by the recipient!

What is a spiritual bouquet?

A spiritual bouquet is nothing more than a card with a list of prayers and/or spiritual devotions that were (or will be) offered for a particular person. You can – if pressed for time – buy a ready-made card and just list the prayers you will pray (or have prayed). But, usually, the card for a spiritual bouquet is hand-made. The card can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be.

To illustrate how to make a spiritual bouquet, here’s a simple one that Andrew (with a bit of help from mama) made recently for a friend’s mother who was in the hospital:

First you need supplies, such as stickers, glue, pens, crayons, straight edge, etc.

Spiritual bouquet supplies

You also need card stock (Andrew insisted on using orange!), heavy construction paper or even poster board.

Spiritual bouquet card stock

Decorate the front of the card as you see fit. Be creative! Andrew just wanted flowers on the front of this card:

Spiritual bouquet front sample

Decorate the inside of the card, write a message and include a list of the prayers, devotions or alms that will be (or have been) offered up.

Spiritual bouquet inside

You don’t have to decorate the back of the card unless you want to. Andrew insisted that I show off the prayer card he glued and the pictures he drew in the back. (That stack of circles is supposed to be a layer cake, NOT a bug – like I thought it was!)

Spiritual Bouquet back

If you don’t want to make a card, you can make a spiritual bouquet collage by cutting out or printing out pictures, holy cards or scripture verses and gluing them to poster board. With a little creativity, you can make a spiritual bouquet anyway you wish!

You can even get several people involved in making a spiritual bouquet for someone, as well. A while ago, an expecting mom from a mother’s group I used to belong to miscarried. One of the other moms collected promises of prayers from all of us and created a large spiritual bouquet to present to the grieving mom. It’s was a wonderful way of letting her know how much we cared and were praying for her.

That’s it! Easy peasy. 🙂 If you’ve made a spiritual bouquet or two. I’d love to see it! Post a link to the image of the bouquet in the comments. Thanks!

P.S. You can download the free ebook, How to Make A Spiritual Bouquet, which gives more detailed instructions and examples here, no opt-in required: How to Make a Spiritual Bouquet