Approaching Lent in Simplicity

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If you’re on social media, you can tell Lent is near by all to kits, books, and other paraphernalia for sale. Whether it’s ‘sacrifice beads’, devotionals, Lenten journals, or homeschooling crafts to make Lent fun and engaging, the internet is full of ways to make Lent as consumer-driven as Christmas and Easter have become.

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Seriously, let’s just not this year. Skip the stuff, dump the kits, and make lent about prayer, fasting, and alms-giving instead of products and gimmicks. The Catholic market is saturated with ‘liturgical living’ products that you don’t need, and that often only serve to distract from actually living liturgically.

There are a lot of great Catholic families trying to make ends meet by selling Lenten peg dolls, e-books, or activities. I’m not anti-home-based businesses, my husband’s is essential to our family’s income. I understand the need to make ends meet. But, I am against turning the least self-indulgent season in the Church into an opportunity to treat ourselves to yet another ‘faith-building’ product. The truth is, Catholic’s shouldn’t be pushing consumerism on each other, especially in Lent. Offering a service or a product is one thing, up-selling it as the way to make your Lent successful is another.

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The truth is, your faith isn’t going to grow because you bought the ‘right’ devotional. You’re kids aren’t suddenly going to ‘get’ Lent because you bought some crafty projects to do with them. Lenten devotions aren’t about making everything Instagram-able. Lenten devotions are about stepping out of the cultural consumption trend and embracing simplicity: not just another book about simplicity, the actual act of living simply.

So, if you’re looking to step into the Lenten season with devotion, try deleting all those “how to be Catholic” books from your Amazon cart. Instead of reading about pursuing simplicity, step out boldly into it. Open up your Bible, spend some time in Sirach and Lamentations. Open up your door, spend some time in silence under the trees.

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At the end of the season, with 40 days of pray, fasting, alms-giving, and interior silence behind you; you can decide whether you really need another book about simplicity. But I don’t think you will.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. A fellow mama says:

    Seriously one of your best posts yet. Thank you for saying this!!! So refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Masha says:

      Thank you so much!

      Like

  2. Mike says:

    Marsha, thank you for your Blog. You and your family’s focus to live in a sacred pattern, liken to a monastic construct, is admirable. I appreciate your appreciation of St Benedict and all that he teaches us day to day in his teachings and Rule. I studied in a Benedictine monastery in my early adulthood, have followed along with the Cistercian as a lay person, and find now in later life that great draw to solitude and simplistic practice. You may well be familiar with Esther de Waal’ s writings on Benedict’s way. Here are two quotes;

    “The monastic tradition has always known about finding God in the daily and the ordinary, so it should not really surprise us that in recent years the monastic vision has escaped the cloister and become the property of many lay people who find that it brings them a down-to-earth refreshment of spirit which sadly they often fail to find in the institutional Church. People are waking up to hear the call of the monastery bell – and if we think of that as the bell for the first Office of the day, which is Vigils, then we are given the further image of a wake-up call, a call to become vigilant, alert, fully awake, fully alive.”
    ― Esther de Waal, Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness

    “Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.”
    ― ESTHER DE WAAL

    Mike

    Like

  3. Amen!!!!! I’m sure many of the Lenten books and resources that fly off the presses each year are lovely, but it can all cause the season to just get so noisy-and people forget about all of the rich resources that exist already. This past Lent, I made my Lenten reading “Preparation for Death,” by St. Alphonsus Liguori-it was excellent! (well, what I read-I never read the last half, because I kept getting sidetracked by other books, but I will finish it soon). Your approach also makes me think of Advent. Every year, tons of people online are trading recommendations about the newest improved Advent devotionals, but I much prefer embracing more simplicity. I have one Advent devotional, called A Monastery Journey to Christmas, which is simple and full of short reflections by a monk. I’ve used it every year for nearly a decade, I think, and I love it. I still get drawn into the hustle and bustle of “Catholic stuff” too much, and I need to do better-but I’m working on it!

    Liked by 1 person

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