What I am about to talk about may seem like rushing things - after all we are still in the Christmas season until February 2. On the other hand, January is a time for most to make resolutions, but as we all know, without true motivation, they soon fade away
Below is a little suggestion on trying to grow in virtue for the next six weeks before Lent begins on February 14th. If we concentrate our efforts to grow in these good habits each week, this may be a way to prime the pump for Lent and at the same time do something constructive for the New Year.
Below is a weekly schedule to create some good habits in preparations leading to Ash Wednesday. Each week, add the new suggestion while continuing the prior - all can be done without contradiction to the joyous spirit of the Christmas season.
Week 1: Jan 7 - 13th On Sundays, explore related passages from Scripture for the liturgical day Take just 5 minutes each Sunday, open the Bible or collection of sermons, and find a passage to reflect on which corresponds to the day. This past Sunday's feast of the Holy Family is rich for reflection. The Gospel is taken from Luke 2:42-52, dealing with the loss of Our Lord in the Temple. On the topic of Jesus and the doctors in the temple, one could read from the Psalms, 118:97-104. Or on the moral beauties of a united family, Exod. 20:12, Deut. 5:16; 26:16, Proverbs 17:6; 23:22-25; 30:17; 31:10-31.
Week 2: Jan. 14-20th Practice Generosity Beyond the precept of the Church that requires us to give of our fruits, generosity is more than money. Sometimes the greater generosity is that of time. This week, make one act of generous time that you ordinarily would not do. For husbands and fathers, perhaps go into work early, so you can leave a bit early in order to spend extra time with children. For mothers, perhaps it’s an unsolicited offer to help another mother watch her children for the afternoon or simply 15 minutes of meditation during the week in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Week 3: Jan. 21 - Jan 27th Practice Purity of Intention This Third Sunday after Epiphany also coincides with the feast of St. Agnes, who is venerated for her purity. But purity can go beyond the mandates of the 6th and 9th commandment. Let us also reflect on our intentions during this week before we take an action – is this task, conversation, or recreation I am about to undertake done for the greater glory of God, or is it self-serving?
Week 4: Jan 28th -Feb. 3rd Practice Silence In Lamentations, and throughout scripture, the preference for us to be silent in prayer and meditation is a recurring theme; “It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God” (Lam. 3:26) This week, make an effort once a day to allow another to speak, or to refrain from an idle comment. You may be surprised at the frequency this happens. Being silent enough to truly engage in deep prayer may be something you can also do.
Week 5: Feb. 4th - Feb. 10th Practice Gratitude This week make it a practice to find ordinary things throughout the day to be grateful for. It could be gratitude to another for something that was done for you. Or it could be a small prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gifts of health, family, a Catholic education for your children, or stable employment. And as we come closer this Sexagesima Sunday to Lent, let us be especially grateful to Our Lord and his priests for the Sacraments.
Week 6: Feb. 11th - Feb. 14th Say the Angelus In churches and priories, the practice of praying the Angelus is common. In homes and our daily lives, it is less so. On this Quinquagesima Sunday, also the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, let us fall into the good habit of praying the Angelus. It is recommended at 6 AM, noon and 6 PM, but you can start with just one and work your way up. Even finding time for one a day is a great way to unite ourselves to Our Lord and Our Lady!
May these practices help us to prepare for a very holy Lenten Season and may it be a great way to create good habits at the start of this New Year.
God bless you through the prayers and intercession of Our Queen and Mother!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!