Lenten Discipline

1. Pick a day of the week to come to morning Mass. Wednesday is a good day because it's halfway and we have donuts!

2. Gather the family for prayer every night before bedtime. Make it simple! Everyone says their intentions then pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, bless the kids and off to bed. This becomes even more powerful if Dad leads the family in this, or at least motivates everyone to do it and participates. Which leads to another good Lenten Discipline: Men, lead your families to God! I consider it your responsibility to get your family to Mass and motivate them while there. (I realize there are single moms out there as well. You already know that everything falls on you which is why you are heroes in my book. I also grew up with a single mom. Do your best and know of my full support!)

3. Institute a habit of prayer each day. Have a non-negotiable amount of prayer. If you don't have anything established, start small. Three Hail Mary's for instance.

4. Be more aware of confessing your everyday sins directly to God. When you have an experience of having made a bad decision (impatience, bad language, thoughts, etc.), right away confess to God that you are sorry for it because you love Him. Get into that habit of immediately confessing your sins to God when you become aware of them.

5. Giving something up is not a bad thing to do. I'm always more in favor of doing something positive like prayer or almsgiving, but fasting from something is of course a tradition we have. Sometimes people do too much and then fail. Do less and be more successful. Maybe don't give up TV every day, but give it up on Friday's? That kind of thing. (By the way, Sunday's are not days of Lent so whatever discipline you are practicing can be relaxed on Sunday.)

6. For your kids, whatever you do, emphasize we do it to grow closer to Jesus. It's not about self-punishment. If you make it about the negative then it will likely become something else they are going to rebel against.

7. Go to confession, especially if it has been awhile. Every Thursday and Friday following morning Mass are our regular confession times. I will add some more times in the evenings during Lent and let you know, but I won't advertise them on the website because I simply can't hear all of the confessions of neighboring parishes. However, I will do this earlier in Lent rather than later because once we get into Holy Week things get very busy for me personally and the parish as well. Be proactive. If you come to me, remember, I care about you, I don't care about your sins. Your sins are just stuff we need to get rid of and forget about.

8. Jesus makes a big point about almsgiving. This can take on different expressions. That you should give to the parish I am bound to remind you as your spiritual leader, however, what you give to the parish is between you and God. Perhaps examine what you have been giving? The average Catholic contribution to their parish is about $3 - $5 a family. If you hover around that number I would certainly recommend revisiting it in prayer with God. Commit to a specific amount each week. (One way to do this is to sign up for auto tithe with the parish. Call the office for details or check the website.) Two main reasons to give to your parish: God says you need to support the Church, and we simply cannot do ministry without your support. Thank you to all who are so generous!