Creative Ideas for Lent 2021
Are you stumped for what to do for Lent this year? Sick of giving up sweets or Instagram for the third year in a row? Last year I decided to do away with giving something up and instead opted to add something new. I read Blessed is She’s Lenten devotional, began the process of consecrating myself to St. Joseph, and prayed a rosary every single day. It was probably my most fruitful Lenten season, and it taught me that while adding something may feel like a cop-out at first, everyone’s spiritual journey is different and it’s okay to try something new.
It was also kind of a lot, so I decided to offer small ways to add on to what you may already be doing at all different levels of commitments to find what works for you. So in the spirit of continued experimentation, here’s some creative new ideas to build on what you’re already doing, grow new habits, and deepen your spiritual life for the next 40 days and beyond.
If you’re already…
- Praying a few times per week: bump it up to 10 mins per day! For encouragement and how to get started, check out the 10 mins prayer challenge here.
- Doing a weekly holy hour: add in meditation with the Stations of the Cross or start a first Friday devotion!
- Praying the Angelus at noon: don’t wait until the day is half over to say hi to God! Try saying, “Jesus, I invite you into my workday, to love me and guide me through whatever today throws at me” every morning when you log in to your email.
- Saying a decade of the rosary every day: bump it up to a full rosary! The Sorrowful Mysteries are particularly well suited for Lent and Holy Week.
- Friends with Mary: try being friends with her spouse! You can consecrate yourself to St. Joseph with Catholify’s in-app devotion or learn more with Hallow’s in-app #Pray40 challenge.
- Reading Catholic blogs like this one: try spiritual reading! Now’s the time to crack open that book by your favorite saint and dive in. Or if you’re like me and want to shake it up a bit, try Disney Devotionals! (Note: I’ll be reading this soon, so can’t fully endorse this yet, but I think it’s worth a shot!)
- Tithing each month: give your favorite Catholic small businesses a boost with a “just because” purchase for you or a loved one. We love Zelie & Lou, Be a Heart, Amy Heyse Art, and The Young Catholic Woman!
- Journaling: try writing down any consolations or desolations you experience at the end of each day. At the end of Lent, you’ll be able to see where God was carrying you, even through the ordinary.
- Following along with the Bible in a Year podcast: try starting a small group or just grabbing a prayer buddy and sharing one key takeaway each day.
- Doing literally anything for Lent: commit to liturgical living outside of Lent! We offer ideas for how to make Ordinary Time (and all the other liturgical seasons!) anything but ordinary each week in The SundayMonday Tuesday newsletter. Sign up in the box below and see how these free, simple ideas can transform how you live your faith!
And for those of us who still feel like you need to give up something, here are some non-traditional ideas for what to fast from this Lent. I can’t take credit for all of these–some I’ve seen elsewhere and picked up along the way, but they’re worth repeating!
If you’re itching for a challenge, try abstaining from…
- Saying “I’m sorry” at work when it’s not necessary.
- Hitting snooze more than twice.
- Checking work email after 10pm.
- Watching Instagram stories or scrolling through your feed (this is a half-measure if you don’t want to give up social media completely; now, try only posting or only scrolling, but not both!)
- Eating meat on Mondays–a good way to bookend your week with Fridays already including traditional abstinence from meat during Lent.
- Gossipping. Period.
- Traditional prayers (besides the Mass): if you’re anything like me, you over rely upon the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” admittedly sometimes to the extent of being able to check the “prayer” box without actually saying anything–or listening to–God. Consider giving up these prayers this Lent in favor of true conversation.
- Rushing through your prayers–for all those of us who have gotten to the end of a “Hail Mary” without actually focusing on the words.
We hope these ideas spark some creative thinking for this Lenten season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Remember, Lent is a marathon, not a race! Don’t be discouraged if you can’t stick to something all the way through. God’s mercies are fresh each morning and you should extend that grace to yourself, too. If you can only give something up for two weeks, great! If you can only say the rosary a decade at a time, awesome! God sees and loves your intentionality.
Above all, Lent is a time of preparation. Focus your time on where you feel gaps are lacking in your spiritual life, but don’t forget that these 40 days are only 40 days. They are not a symbol of your worth or courage, nor your commitment to your faith. No matter how you spend this Lent, at the end of 40 days, we will still be an Easter people, and Alleluia will still be our song.
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Gabriela R. A. Doyle is a speechwriter and communications specialist from northern Virginia. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and is an Elon University alumna. Gabriela is a ballerina who believes in happily ever afters and trusts that a little hygge and St. Joseph can fix just about any problem there is.