My friend Daria Stockey has written a great piece on Father's For Good on the Knights of Columbus website called "Giving Up Stuff". We should be thinking of what Lenten practices we are going to implement before Ash Wednesday this week.
What have you given up in the past which has produced much spiritual fruit?
Daria shares an idea which may help women with a proclivity for shopping.
My other big fast each year is something only women will appreciate: a fast on shopping. Other than groceries, there are very few things that we are really compelled to purchase during any given six-week period. I really can make do with the clothing, kitchen items, beauty products, and office supplies that we already own for the duration of Lent. The thrill of the bargain hunt, cruising store aisles for clearance sales, checking out the latest fashions, snagging a pretty piece of costume jewelry, a pair of shoes, a new DVD: this is fantastic givinup material for most of us females. Just toss those sale flyers in the trash without a glance, and be strong! Meanwhile, my menfolk scratch their heads and wonder why this constitutes a sacrifice.
The best Lenten practice I ever implemented was to discuss my cases as a Social Worker at Catholic Charities, my first job out of college, with my ailing Grandmother who was living at our home her last year of life. She had been the unpaid family social worker, taking care of the lonely, poor and elderly in her home.
She was never compensated in this life for her heroic sacrifices caring for my grandfather's uncle Adam with Alzheimer's disease and giving him a decent burial. Grandma grew up in poverty in Ireland, came to the US to bring over all her siblings and never stopped giving. She was full of joy and a wonderful storyteller, so I decided to share my stories from my job with her as a gift and a sacrifice for Lent.
I was tired after a long day of social work and didn't relish reliving often harrowing experiences, but the joy it gave Grandma during her last Lent on earth was a gift I was so thankful to give.
I was sure that the Lord had inspired me to give of myself to her. Ask what He wants you to give to a family member this Lent. I think I will focus on spending floor time with Christina playing whatever game she wants to play for an hour a day. I have a feeling this activity will give us more than it requires in sacrifice.