YESTERDAY, the Chaplain of FSSP.la gave a homily with suggestions on how to make spiritual progress for Lent. Here’s part of what he said: 1
RADITIONALLY, Catholics from age 21 until 59 would fast every day during Lent. Under Pope Paul VI, the fasting rules were relaxed a bit. However, for those wishing to do something a little more intense this Lent, here are ten ideas:
This is the traditional manner of observing Lent: one main meal per day, which may include meat. Optionally you may have two smaller meatless meals, but no snacks in between. Liquids can be had at any time.
2. Stop a Sin
This is particularly good for those who may confess the exact same list each time. Pick one sin and overcome it during the next 40 days. By the end of lent you will no longer commit that sin. You will find that with one sin off your confession list, you will be able to break the other vices, too.
3. Daily Mass
Holy Mother the Church has not mandated us to go to daily Mass because for many it is not possible. However, for every single day of Lent, the Church provides special formularies—Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gospel, and so forth. Let us respond to what the Church is here offering us.
4. Daily Rosary
This would be the best recommendation for any family that is not praying the Rosary daily.
5. No Meat or Dairy
An idea borrowed from the Eastern Rites, who to this day require their members to abstain from meat, dairy, and (here’s the kicker) substitutes for them. So for example no butter, but also no margarine.
6. The Phone
The phone is the plague of our century. It destroys character, interaction, friendships, families, and our time. We are glued to these devices. Abstain from the use of the phone (texting, using apps, etc) for a certain amount of time each day. Specify what time and set reminders. (For example from 8 am until 10 am.) Or do not bring the phone to the dinner table etc.
Many people need noise at all times. A good penance would be to silence that noise. So, no music in the car. Nor background television at home. Maintain periods of silence, where there is no background noise. (This one is easy for monks, but not for most Catholics.)
Limit the computer use each day. Give yourself three hours to use the computer. This would include emails, browsing the web, etc. But then you turn the computer off, and you do not check your emails or the web or anything for the rest of the day, until the next day. Three hours is actually a long time—if you decide less, good for you!
This is a fun one. But difficult. You can choose one of two things to curb your tongue with. Either you never talk about yourself, or you only ever say good things (about anything). “This food is great!” — “I like the clothes that person is wearing” … and so on.
Go to sleep early and wake up early. Use the extra hour gained for spiritual reading. It can be any spiritual reading you like: a book about a saint, a book about a virtue—anything! But the key is to go to sleep early and wake up early.
If I could be permitted to add one item to Father’s excellent list. There exist many pernicious websites these days—especially anonymous ones—which harm the Catholic Church all day long. Perhaps Lent would be an appropriate time to stop visiting these, no matter how “captivating” their salacious gossip is.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 This is a summary of the homily delivered in Saint Victor Church, so I heard it “live.” Please forgive any imperfections in my transcription.