January 28 of this year marked the start of Septuagesima in the Latin liturgical calendar, or the period of official preparation for Lent. Whether you and your beloved celebrate the Latin, Novus Ordo, or other Rite of the Church, these weeks before Ash Wednesday invite contemplation of how you plan to enter into Lent.
For the engaged and married couples, these forthcoming 40 days present a distinctive opportunity to unite your spiritualities as one through prayer, sacrifice, and self-gift. Here, fifteen Lenten promises you can choose as a couple:
Commit to a daily Rosary, praying only the Sorrowful Mysteries. Meditate on the profound nuptial significance of Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion--consider this Theology of the Body-inspired prayer book for inspiration.
Attend weekly Stations of the Cross at your parish, followed by an at-home date night of cooking a simple meal together.
Alone or with friends, set aside a weekly evening of playing and praying with Praise and Worship music on instruments.
Set a standing weekly date for a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. If you’re married, consider scheduling your prayer time for late night or early morning.
Choose a spiritual book to read together. You might choose the Diary of St. Faustina, to read in time for Divine Mercy Sunday after Easter, this six-week devotional for couples, or these selections that invite a fresh look at your prayer life.
If TV is part of your nightly routine, make a promise to pray together before beginning your leisure time. Consider limiting your watching to one episode per night, rather than binge-watching.
Cultivate presence: with the exception of necessary, time-sensitive communications, keep your phones away when you’re spending time together.
If you’re engaged and your schedule allows, fast from non-time-sensitive wedding planning: avoid browsing for material goods (décor, apparel, and/or registry items) and take a break from reading wedding blogs and magazines. Focus, instead, on developing your spiritual disposition toward the sacrament of marriage.
For women, abstain from wearing makeup. Meditate on your feminine genius and on concrete ways to appreciate your authentic beauty.
Mother Teresa made a private vow to Jesus that she, as his bride, would refuse him nothing. In the small--and perhaps larger--dimensions of your own daily life, make an effort to willingly, open-heartedly say yes to your beloved’s requests and needs.
For married couples, do your spouse’s least favorite household chore for him or her.
Make a donation to a charity or ministry close to your hearts.
Join, or even start, a ministry in your parish or community. Consider leading a Scripture study or young adult group, participating in pro-life activism, or taking part in your church’s choir or liturgical ministries.
For each day of Lent, make a phone call or send a text or letter to an individual involved in your wedding: family members, bridesmaids, groomsmen, clergy, and other guests.
In this season, we enter the desert. We thirst; we are tempted; we cry out. In these times of desolation, embrace the tension between sacrifice and desire, earth and heaven, knowing from the love of your fiancé or spouse and from the Father, there flows endless mercy and grace, cherishing you just as you are and calling you on to greatness.