Should you give up on Lent — or finish strong?

As the Church Prays
Michael Podrebarac is the archdiocesan consultant for the liturgy office.

by Michael Podrebarac

So, maybe your Lenten “observance” hasn’t been particularly “observed” this year. You can do one of three things.

First: Give up the whole effort altogether; after all, what’s the use? Don’t do that — it reeks of the sort of thing Judas might’ve counseled.

Second: Just continue to limp along; after all, it’s almost over, and will soon be done and forgotten. But that seems a little premeditated, and is surely to put you under a bit of a dark cloud when Easter arrives.

Third (you guessed it, this is the one we’re going with): Buckle up and keep an especially “observant” Passiontide.

Passiontide means those last two weeks of Lent reserved for particular focus on Our Lord as he heads toward his passion and death. In the older liturgical calendar, it is still formally observed by that name.

But even in the revised calendar after Vatican II, though not formally named, it can still be sensed in the readings and prayers at Mass; through the statues and crosses, which may be veiled during this time; and by the overall pace of events that propel us toward the Lord’s suffering and death.

It’s a perfect time to begin resolutions anew. And here are a few simple things one can do to jump-start renewed efforts.

Start each day with a prayer, perhaps even just the sign of the cross and a slow, thoughtful Our Father, before heading into the flurry of the day’s activities. It’s been said that one devout offering of the Lord’s Prayer is worth more to the soul than a thousand just rattled off.

Conclude each day with a brief examination of conscience. Begin with the good things the Lord has done for you. Then consider how you’ve responded to these blessings. See where things could’ve gone better. Then offer a sincere prayer of contrition and resolution to amend.

On that note, take the time for the sacrament of reconciliation. There are still plenty of opportunities in most of our parishes. Perform your penance throughout the final stretch of the season.

Attend Stations of the Cross. Draw close to Our Lord’s passion and death in this devotional of mind, heart and body.

How’s your Lenten Rice Bowl looking? Resolve to put aside all unnecessary eating and drinking these next two weeks and dedicate what that sacrificed food and drink would have cost toward your neighbor in need.

Participate in the liturgies of Holy Week — Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday — as much as possible.

Walk with the Lord as he suffers for us in love, and you will enjoy the best Easter ever. Don’t be discouraged at what you haven’t yet accomplished, and never give up as did Judas.

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