Lent: 40 Days and 40 Ways

Every year I try to approach Lent anew. I don’t want it to ever grow old. Lent holds a dear place in my heart, as it always reminds me of the days that brought me up to my joining the Catholic Church in 1994. Those emotional memories are strong, and they have always assisted my spiritual journey. I try to find Lenten observances that will help keep this love alive in my heart and my husband’s, and enkindle them in the hearts of my children.

So, today, I have 40 ways for you to observe Lent. By no means do I dare suggest that you try to do all 40. (It was way harder to get to 40 than I thought it would be!)  I am a huge advocate for a simple, focused Lent. Trust me. But I also know that it is nice to try something new every once in a while. Maybe this year, you’re like me. You’d like a few ideas of something ‘new’ – a way in which you can wake up this Lent to bring out something fresh in your spirituality. Pick just a few – 3 or 4 – and see if they don’t make your Lent a little richer!

Here are my 40 Ways, in no particular order:

  1. Pray the Gospel of the day each morning, and spend 10 minutes or so reflecting on its message. Read it to your family at the breakfast table.
  2. Pray the Rosary more frequently. Maybe on the way to work, or the Sorrowful Mysteries each Sunday night after dinner.
  3. Subscribe to Fr. Barron’s daily Lenten messages – free in your inbox! And if you know Fr. Barron, they’re going to be good!
  4. Speaking of Fr. Barron, watch his Youtube video on Lent, from 2011.
  5. Join Catholic Sistas’ 2014 Instagram Lenten Photo-a-Day Journey!
  6. Go to mass 10 minutes earlier than usual and spend that time in quiet prayer.
  7. Fast from Facebook or Twitter. Or plan just one time a day to check in and resist the urge the rest of the day.
  8. Find a nearby nursing home and take your children to visit a few times during Lent. At Easter, take your new friends a home-made card.
  9. Pray the Stations of the Cross at home. There’s even an app for that!
  10. Use Team Whitaker’s awesome printables to make each day something different for Lent! Our family loves these!
  11. Watch Word on Fire’s Catholicism Series with friends or family. Chat about each episode afterward.
  12. Find 40 simple Lenten activites for children by Jenna over at Call Her Happy.
  13. Add an extra day of abstaining from meat each week. Some people add in Wednesday.
  14. Join in your parish Lenten activities – Ash Wednesday, Friday night adoration, stations of the cross, soup suppers, live stations of the cross, and of course all of the Triduum celebrations.
  15. Read this.
  16. Watch the classic Jesus of Nazareth movie. We usually do this as a family over Holy Week.
  17. Make a pilgrimage. Is there a special shrine or holy place near you? Make a point to take a special trip, to offer your prayers and devotion. Find some ideas here.
  18. Host a food or baby clothes drive for a local food bank or pregnancy center. Send out an email, FB post or tweet to your friends and offer to pick up items and deliver them to the center.
  19. Pray the Angelus each day.
  20. Help decorate your church for Holy Week and Easter.
  21. Create a special Lenten prayer corner in your home. Use a crucifix, a meaningful holy card, print out your favorite scripture and add a place mat or cloth napkin underneath it all and a small candle. Make a point to pray there each day.
  22. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Maybe morning and night prayer? There’s an app for that, too.
  23. Each Friday, make your meatless meal together as a family, or with a group of friends. Share new recipes each week.
  24. Join The Practicing Catholic in their Lenten Series, Soup and Stories – 40 Days, 40 Bowls of Soup – Posting a different soup recipe each day of Lent, with a story behind it. Too cool! And, I made their logo for the series, and I think it’s quite nice. :)
  25. Maybe after your meatless meal, watch a reflective movie.
  26. Try to do a secret act of kindness each day. You can do this as a family, too. Maybe have family members keep a list, to share at Easter. Imagine what fun it will be so see what was done for everyone without them knowing.
  27. When at home, play thoughtful music. I have an old set of John Michael Talbot CDs that I have played during Lent for years. Other ideas are Audrey Assad and Matt Maher. What are you suggestions for great Catholic music artists?
  28. Have a family prayer basket. Encourage family members and friends to write a prayer request and add to the basket. Pray over the requests on a regular basis throughout Lent. Children could even add prayer requests from friends at school.
  29. Pray the Litany of Humility.
  30. Find some good, simple Lenten activities for children here.
  31. Read Shirt of Flame by Heather King – based on her year of reflection on the life of St. Therese. Truly a life-changing book. It was for me.
  32. Turn off the radio or unplug the ipod in your car.
  33. Use the book ‘A Family Journey Through Lent‘ with your family.
  34. Participate in #FoundGrace – A Lenten Instagram Series.
  35. Use Carrots for Michaelmas Liturgical Cookbook : “Feast” to add something new to your Lenten table and observances!
  36. Magnificat has its Lenten Companion prayer book available in digital format for only .99 on Amazon!
  37. If you haven’t read Love & Salt by Jessica Griffith and Amy Andrews, here’s your chance! Join their letter a day Lenten Challenge!
  38. Help your children create a Lenten lapbook. Include anything you like – prayers, stations, images. Here’s a great example.
  39. Read Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2014 and offer special prayers and almsgiving for the poor.
  40. Read Caryll Houselander’s The Way of the Cross. Stellar!

What ideas do YOU have? I’m sure you have something cool to share. Please do so in comments below. I look forward to reading them!

lent 40 days and 40 ways

  • Beth Cowles

    Lauren, these look great! This year I’m doing a throwback for myself and giving up chocolate. It has become a regular everyday snack for me, instead of the treat it should be, so each time I am tempted to eat some chocolate (of which I have some in my desk at work and various varieties at the house), I will say a prayer for someone on my list. I am hoping that by using my sacrifice to lift up others in prayer, I will draw closer to Christ and His ultimate sacrifice for us.

    In years past, I have tried adding more prayer through attending Stations of the Cross every Friday. I really like doing that, not only do I really like the prayers of the Stations, but since I grew up going to Catholic school and going to Stations every Friday of Lent, it brings back good memories of people I don’t always think about.

    Lent is a special time for me, too. Because two of our three children were born right after Lent (one actually on Easter!) that it always brings me back to those years and the preparations I made to bring those little boys into the world.

    God bless you and your family with a meaningful Lent!

    • Lauren

      Hi Beth! I really like that idea of linking your fast to your prayer. Makes it even more meaningful! Thanks for sharing!

  • Martina

    Great ideas! We have a resource guide for Lent at Catholic Sistas, too! Thanks mucho for the hat tip to the photo journey. I’m always inspired by what others snap pictures of to show what they’re doing during Lent. :)

    http://www.catholicsistas.com/2013/02/12/your-handy-dandy-list-to-lenten-sacrifices/

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  • Jessica McInnis Gerngross

    Excellent list! I find that I miss our Stations of the Cross in TX or Soup & Stations when living in GA, but I am finding we are having lots of that special time for each other and this Lenten season here in Holland, but we hope to find out about and see the Living Stations in Rotterdam. Thanks again! I do hope to try something new next week!