What happens when Lent takes a left-turn? 4 ways to get back on track


Most Catholics who take their faith seriously (and even some who don't) have a plan for Lent. We know what we're giving up. We throw our spare change in the Rice Bowl. We have a book or two we plan to read, or maybe delve into Scripture more regularly.

Then, we find ourselves in the middle of Lent, completely off-track. Our GPS broke. Our map was wrong. We're lost.

What to do?

First, I'm not talking about tragedy. Someone dies, or  you lose your job or some other horrible and completely up-ending event occurs. No, this is just ... a wrong turn. How can you get back on track?

1. Pray. Without a doubt, prayer is always the best place to start. Go to Jesus and rest in His love for you. Ask that He guide you back to where you need to be. Enlist the help of a patron saint as well - they love to pray for us!

2. Fast. Yes, I know we only have to truly fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (By the way, I am the world's worst WORST worst faster. I get completely obsessed with food.....) You might choose to fast for a day, like we do for those two days. Or maybe you should fast from social media for a few days. Fast from your favorite beverage and just drink water. Then, (and here is the really important part!!): every time your thoughts go to that thing you are fasting from - pray. Just a little prayer, like, "Jesus, I love you" or "Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner."

3. Prepare well for Mass. Don't show up for Mass like you have no idea this was all going to happen. Before you get to Mass (maybe a day or so ahead), read the readings and Gospel. (You can always find them here.) Just read 'em. Don't expect too much. Then, once more before Mass, read them again, but read them with a prayerful heart: "Lord, what are you telling me here? Help me hear Your voice."

4. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, go to Confession. However, examine your life: family, friends, work. Is there someone you've wronged? Slighted? Maybe you took credit for something that wasn't yours, or you made a snippy comment to a hurting soul. Go find that person or persons and tell them you are sorry. Be specific: "I'm sorry I said your haircut looked like Captain Kangaroo. It was rude. Please forgive me." You don't need to psychoanalyze yourself with them, explaining that you had a traumatic haircut as a child and just haven't worked through it yet. Say, "I'm sorry."

Three weeks til Easter, people! Let's dig in and finish well!

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