Are you ready for Lent?

This year, Lent begins on February 10. If you, like me, have been stalling about “getting ready for Lent,” with the expectation that all the prayers and sacrifices and stuff will just fall into place come Ash Wednesday, you might like to take a look at Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s book, 40 Days, 40 Ways:  A New Look at Lent.

It works like this:  On each day of Lent, Marcellino suggests one way that you can observe the season.  Here’s an example, the first entry for Ash Wednesday:

Day 1.  Ashes are a sign of humbling oneself before God.  Receive them and pray for humility. 

Then follows a brief (one- or two-page) reflection to help you understand more about Lent and why it matters.

But you don’t have to follow the days exactly as Marcellino has outlined them.  Try this instead:  Skim the topics for the forty days and pick several which seem to touch on areas where you’d like to improve.  Here are some examples:

Day 28.  Commit to making an examination of conscience each night before bed, reviewing the thoughts, words and actions of your day to see if all were motivated by love of God.  Ask forgiveness where you fell short.

Day 31.  Before work, chores, or study, make a conscious decision to offer up whatever you are doing for the love of God and in loving intercession for some person or special need.  Each Sunday, as the gifts are brought up to the altar, mentally place all these things on the paten with the altar bread.

Day 34.  Find out what the Sign of the Cross really means and begin making it less mechanically, more thoughtfully several times per day.

Can you see how these simple ideas can lead one to greater holiness with just a few weeks of conscious application?

I always benefit from the practical teaching and inspired leadership of Marcellino D’Ambrosio.  I read his daily email commentaries from his Crossroads Initiative, and I find them practical and encouraging.  I’ve enjoyed his live presentations in the past.  In 40 Days, 40 Ways, I find one more helpful tool for my spiritual arsenal.

Of this latest book, Marcellino writes, “With 40 Days, 40 Ways, you’ll learn how to have a more creative experience of Lent.  You’ll discover positive, proactive ways to take action instead of the same old routine of giving something up.  The result will be spiritual transformation and a closer walk with Christ–not only during Lent but throughout the year.”  That’s it exactly.