Throughout These 40 Days …


Well, we’ve just experienced our first taste of Lent 2011: 40 days of prayer, penitence and self-mortification.

Will the next six weeks be filled with trepidation — “How will I give something up for 40 days?” — or determination — “How do I prepare myself for Easter?”? Lent is supposed to be difficult, but not for difficulty’s sake. Just as we need Advent to prepare our hearts for Our Lord’s coming at Christmas, we need to prepare our hearts for his resurrection at Easter.

What follows are 10 ways to make your 40 days more fruitful. (A 40-day version is available at Above all, we should try to abandon the American I’ll-do-it-myself-thank-you-very-much approach and focus more on “being prepared by God.” Doing this — setting things aside to listen to God, putting our lives and our days in his hands — will make our 40-day plunge more like a 40-day pilgrimage to Calvary — and beyond.

1. If you’re only a Sunday Massgoer, attend one daily Mass. If you go to one weekday Mass, go another day, etc.

2. Look for ways to improve the way you pray the Rosary; focusing more on the mysteries it commemorates, singling out a specific mystery to pray with special intensity or offering each mystery for a specific intention.

3. Lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture). ’Nuff said.

4. Forgive/reunite with an estranged family member or friend.

5. Visit your ailing or lonely father/mother/grandmother, etc.

6. Pray in front of an abortion business. Last Lent, Pam Caylor and Marina Cortopassi not only prayed, but were actively instrumental in reversing an abortion that resulted in Claire Stout’s birth. (See story on page C4.)

7. Cultivate silence. Turn off the iPod and DVD player. Shut off talk radio in the car. Hide the remote control.

8. Join 40 Days for Life. This year’s campaign includes prayer, fasting and community outreach. At last count, more than 3,500 lives have been saved, thanks to previous campaigns.

9. Husbands, pray with your wives. Wives, pray with your husbands. (Let your young children see you both praying together.)

10. Meditate on the last four things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.