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.
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.
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.
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.