Lent is a time to clear away the clutter so that we can focus on the more important relationships in life. We asked some of our young writers what they might give up, and what they might do, to deepen their friendship with God this Lent [australiancatholics.com.au]
1. Set the gadgets aside
We are often not willing to let go of our work or reliance on technology because we cling on to the things we find meaningful in the material world. While technology in itself is not a bad thing, our dependence on technology leaves us vulnerable to being disconnected from those around us, surrounded by unhealthy ways of thinking, and too distracted to take actions that might help us live better lives. Instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning, make a Lenten commitment to instead check in with God each day. Setting the gadgets aside, even if it’s for a few hours each morning or evening, can help free you for the things that matter.
By Anna Watt
2. Try a new way of praying
What we often miss in our Lenten promise is that the pre-Easter period is not so much about the things that we lose, but more importantly the love and blessings of God which we gain as a result of our sacrifices. Explore some new ways of praying this Lent, and pick one out to practise each week, e.g. praying with the Blessed Sacrament in Church. Replacing the time spent in front of a screen with time spent in prayer or gazing on the Blessed Sacrament, we can fully appreciate God’s love and focus ourselves on the more satisfying and real life we can lead in God’s presence.
By Anna Watt
3. Stop feeding the buzz
Although God loves each one of us deeply and unconditionally, indulging in gossip can distract us from recognising that love. It is always very tempting to listen to juicy news about others whether they are friends, acquaintances or even celebrities and people we don’t know. As much as we damn people who gossip, it is very easy to participate ourselves. We listen to other people’s opinions on others without fully knowing both sides of the story and unknowingly judge based on what we’ve heard without knowing the truth for certain. Gossip also promotes negative energy, which is not needed in our world that needs love and mercy more than ever. Try giving up gossip this Lent.
By Monique Pueblos
4. Commit to really listening to people
Often we listen to people just so we can get a chance to respond to them – either agreeing with them or putting forward an alternative view. But that’s not the only way to engage in conversation. This Lent, practise listening to people with the aim of simply understanding what they’re saying to you. Listening for understanding sets aside our own needs, and places the needs of the person we’re listening to at the centre. If we can just try to listen not with the intention to speak but to grasp what the person is talking about and sympathise, empathise or celebrate with them, we grow not only as Catholics but as humans. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.
By Monique Pueblos
5. Get back to nature
One of Pope Francis’s biggest focuses is our relationship with the environment. So this Lent, connect to God by ensuring what you eat is fresh and natural. Not only will eating natural foods such as vegetables, seeds and nuts make you healthier, it will also aid you in connecting more with God. Just think of the sorts of food that would have been available to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – it’s not likely they would have been eating chocolate bars. Eating healthy helps us connect to the two people God first loved, and feel his continuing love for us.
By Madeleine Kuyken
Reflection questions and activities for ‘Becoming God’s bestie this Lent’
Michael McVeigh | 03 February 2016
Read the article ‘Becoming God’s bestie this Lent’ and answer the following and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion.
1. Do you think of your relationship with God as a friendship? Why or why not?
2. How does thinking about our relationship with God as a friendship change the way we see things like sin, or the sacrament of reconciliation?
3. How does thinking about our relationship with God as a friendship change the way we see fasting, or giving things up, during Lent?
4. What will you do to deepen your friendship with God this Lent?
1. Do you think whole countries or societies could use a time ilke Lent to make a commitment to give something up, or try something new, for a period of time, in order to try to live better? Pick an issue you feel passionate about – such as refugees, or homelessness – and write a Letter to the Editor urging people to do something concrete for Lent to make a difference to others.
2. Write an imaginative story, ‘A fun day out with Jesus’. It could be set in Biblical times, or today. Given what you know about Jesus, what does being friends with him involve? How might Jesus be different to other friends? At the end of the story, describe how you feel at the end of the day.
3. What other religions practice fasting? Explore the place of fasting in Buddhism or Islam, and compare it to how Christians practice fasting in Lent. What are the similarities and differences?
For younger students: Making friends with God in Lent
Fold a piece of paper into two halves.
On one side, write ‘God is my friend, and wants me to_____’ and fill in the blank with something God wants you to do. If you don’t want to write words, feel free to draw a picture.
On the other side, write, ‘Because God wants me to do this, in Lent I will ______’ and write down something that you will do, or will give up doing, in Lent because you want to be closer friends with God. Again, feel free to draw a picture if you want.
Share your drawing with your class.
Article and Classroom Activities published with permission from australiancatholics.com.au