SAVE THE DATE ... our Social Media Coordinator, Elise Crawford, is marrying Hunter, her college sweetheart, on August 12, 2017. We're overjoyed for her and are thrilled to share with you a peek into one bride's real-life wedding planning. Over the next year, we'll feature monthly pieces from Elise on marriage prep, choosing wedding details, and her spirituality as a bride-to-be. Join us in praying for Elise and Hunter during this sacred time of anticipation!
Photography by: Meaghan Clare Photography
Lent can seem like a very solitary time in the Liturgical calendar: we are called to examen ourselves and work on our habits that might not be the most helpful in our spiritual lives. However, Lent is an excellent opportunity for you to develop new, healthy spiritual habits as a couple as well as individuals. Since Hunter and I are tying the knot this year, we decided to be more intentional about Lent 2017 than we have been in the past.
I have to say, I don't have the best Lenten record...usually I falter in my Lenten resolution within the first couple of weeks! However, this year, I was determined to make Lenten goals that were 1.) Actually achievable 2.) Brought me closer to the Lord and 3.) Brought both Hunter and I closer to one another and deepen our faith together. We can all passively try to make a Lenten resolution while consuming way to much sugar on Mardi Gras (maybe I'm just speaking for myself here), but the key to a fruitful Lent isn't just to give up something for the sake of doing so. Lenten observance isn't for God, He doesn't need our sacrifices. Rather, Lent is for us, as Christians, to become more attuned to God in our daily lives and refocus our gaze upon His love.
Below I've listed six ways to enter into a fruitful Lent with your signifiant other. You can choose as many items from the list as you'd like, just make sure to do so intentionally. Take some time to pray and listen to how the Lord is drawing you closer to Him this Lent. We've also included a beautiful download from The Anchor Theory that you and your beloved can use to plan your Lent.
1. Sacrifice Something Together as a Couple: Hunter and I decided to sacrifice extra spending this Lent: no eating out or nights at the movies for the next few weeks. Sacrificing something as a couple is a great way to come together and offer something to the Lord, even if it seems small. It's an opportunity to replace something in your normal routine (eating out) with prayer and time spent together with the Lord. Make sure to intentionally set alternatives to the thing that you are giving up: instead of spending time in front of the TV together, resolve to say a rosary each week.
2. The Examen: Since "intentionality" is our theme for this Lent, we really wanted to make it a point to reflect on our daily habits and to become more aware of how we are making, or failing, to keep God as the center of our lives. The Examen is a prayer developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola and is a method to reviewing your daily routines and practices. I'd encourage you and your significant other to pray the Examen each night together. Take time for silence and individual prayer and then if you feel comfortable, share with one another your reflections for the day and how you plan to improve for the following day.
3. Liturgy of the Hours: It is important as lay people to participate in the life of the Church on a daily basis, beyond just Sunday mass. The Divine Office is a fantastic way to raise your heart and mind to God throughout the day. "The purpose of the Divine Office is to sanctify the day and all human activity" (Apostolic Constitution, Canticum Laudis). There is morning prayer, evening prayer and night prayer. Decide with your partner which time of day works best for the both of you to pray the Office. Hunter and I like to say night prayer to conclude our days together by surrendering the day's happenings to God.
4. Bible Study and Stations of the Cross: I always cringe when I hear the joke made that Catholics don't know their Scripture! Lent is an excellent time for you and your beloved to delve into the Bible. There are great Bible studies available online but it doesn't have to be too complicated: decide to devote 10-20 minutes each day reflecting on the daily readings and or turning to a passage in the Bible and praying with Scripture. You can even practice Lectio Divina if you feel called to delve deeper into the Lord's words this Lent. Most parishes host Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent. This practice is another great way to enter into the Lord's Word, especially as we anticipate His Passion and death.
5. Service: As Catholics, we are called to the Corporal Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, and giving alms to the poor. Set some time aside in your calendar in the next few weeks to donate your time and resources to those less fortunate. Look to your local food bank or decide to put a few extra dollars each week in the poor box each Sunday for the remainder of Lent.
6. Blessed is She: Although this practice might be geared more towards a Bride, the Blessed is She Lenten journal is still a great way to intentionally grow in your faith this Lenten season! I have used Blessed is She's journals in the past and plan to do so this Lent. Their workshops are also awesome resources for you to deepen your relationship with God.
What are your Lenten goals for the next 33 days? Share in the comments below!