Here’s a helpful acronym to help you stay focused during Lent: Keep • It • Simple • Sinner.
The best Lent is one in which we enter the season wholeheartedly. All too often, people either take on too much or don’t take on enough. The solution is to simplify our disciplines, focus our intentions and concentrate more clearly on our spiritual goals.
To keep it simple this Lent, try the “1-1-1 Plan”: one sin, one add-in, one give-up. Concentrate or focus on one sin or fault that is getting in the way of your relationship with God and with others. Add one positive activity that will deepen your prayer and spiritual life (especially if you think you are too busy to put anything more into an impossibly busy schedule!). Deny yourself something you really like or are attached to.
Most of us, if we are honest, know at least one area of sin to focus on during Lent. If you aren’t sure, or are having trouble narrowing it down, use the traditional seven deadly sins as a guide here.
In fact, some of the other deadly sins are even deadlier, especially pride, or self-love, which St. Thomas Aquinas called, “the cause of every sin.”
If you need help in identifying which sin to concentrate on this year, ask God in prayer to reveal it to you. If you still aren’t sure, ask your family or close friends. Just be sure you are willing to listen to them and accept their assessment.
The next step in 1-1-1 Lent is to add one thing of God to your routine that you haven’t been doing. Because we are all so busy, it’s a good idea to not just pick an add-in, but to schedule a regular time when you put it on your calendar so you don’t “forget.”
Ideas for add-ins are pretty much endless, but some include:
◗ Go to Mass in the middle of the week
◗ Attend the Stations of the Cross as a family
◗ Read a Gospel
◗ Volunteer at a social ministry
◗ Get up early to pray
One give up
Giving up something for Lent has been part of the Church almost since the beginning. While giving up sweets and alcohol are time-honored, consider giving up one thing that you really like or enjoy. Just make sure it is something that lets you feel the deprivation and is at least a little bit challenging. Make it difficult but doable.
◗ Fast from fault finding and nagging, and fast from a critical tongue or a closed mind.
◗ Give up impulse purchases.
◗ Give up an unhealthy habit, like smoking.
◗ Limit the time you watch television or surf the Web.
◗ Give up eating out and donate the money you save.
This article originally appeared in the OSV Newsweekly.