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Many give up something for Lent. We invite you to enter into the season anew by taking up a practice you wouldn't otherwise do.
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Updated Feb. 6, 2024
If you have gotten in a rut with your Lenten prayer, why not try something new? Pope Francis began a Year of Prayer Jan. 21 to help us prepare for the Jubilee Year 2025. Vatican resources, such as "Notes on Prayer," an eight-volume series of booklets, are being published throughout the year. The first, “Praying Today. A Challenge to Be Overcome,” was released Jan. 23. Or consider lifting up the people of the Middle East and Ukraine in prayer. One of the most common Lenten devotions is the Stations of the Cross. Many parishes offer the stations each Friday of Lent. If unable to be there in person, pray it online. Have you tried eucharistic adoration? If not, Lent is a great time to start, especially as we celebrate the National Eucharistic Revival. Spend an hour with Jesus at a parish near you. Other suggestions include: Guided Lenten Studies, Reflections and Apps, Online Retreats or Liturgy of the Hours.
Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are standard. To learn the basics, visit the Fasting and Abstinence Guidelines. Why not go beyond the basics? Find out what many already know: Fasting awakens your awareness of God and pulls you closer to him. You might find fasting for others more fulfilling. What about fasting throughout Lent for an end to war? Other ideas include taking part in programs like CRS Rice Bowl, or fasting from something other than food? How about turning off the television or the Internet?
If you like to read, consider spiritual reading this Lent. Check out Pope Francis' 2024 Lenten Message or his recent apostolic exhortation “Laudate Deum” (“Praise God”). What about "Lent 2023: A Quiet Place for You and Jesus" from Arkansas Catholic or "Lent, Season of Transformation" from Little Rock Scripture Study. We also recommend Bishop Anthony B. Taylor's Homily Library or his pastoral letter on the human rights of immigrants, which includes a study guide. Other good options include: other writings from Pope Francis, Bishop Robert Barron's Daily Lenten Reflections or the Lenten reading lists from Word on Fire or Ascension Press. If you prefer to watch, forgo the latest Netflix series for Season 4 of The Chosen or check out the wide variety of Lenten video series and films for children and adults on FORMED.
During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on almsgiving, which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. Although the cost of living has shot up, challenge yourself to give more this year. Your sacrifice for those in need is a "work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462) Suggestions include giving to CASA, the schools' Scholarship Appeal, One Church or the special collections during Lent, including Catholic Relief Services or its family program CRS Rice Bowl.
If not already doing a study in your parish, check out the offering from Little Rock Scripture Study, the internationally recognized Catholic program that began in the Diocese of Little Rock. What about an online or in-person study using these free articles, available in English and Spanish, that offer questions for group study? Or consider "Powerful Pairings in the Bible" a recent series from Cackie Upchurch. Looking to explore on your own? Use this helpful Q&A and guide from Arkansas Catholic. Do you like podcasts? If so, check out the "Bible in a Year Podcast," from Father Mike Schmitz. Other options include: "Lectio Divina" ("Divine Reading") or praying the daily readings accompanied by daily video or audio reflections from the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Do you have questions about what the Church teaches and why? Have you been told or read something about a teaching that bothers you? Has this caused you to take a step back? Are you sure what you were told is correct? You owe it to yourself to learn the truth. Ask a priest, or visit trusted resources online. We also recommend reading Bishop Taylor's statements on current events or his homilies that are posted each week. If your parish is hosting the "Jesus and the Eucharist" Study this spring, join in to deepen your understanding of Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. The Faith Formation Office offers free online courses at learn.dolr.org. If you like podcasts, check out "The Catechism in a Year" with Father Mike Schmitz. Or check out other offerings from Ascension Press, Word on Fire or FORMED for adults. We also have resources for children, teens and young adults. Do you have an adult child who no longer attends Mass? Consider the new "Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church" from Word on Fire.
Parishes across Arkansas are hosting fish fries, soup suppers, missions, Bible studies and more during Lent. Contact a parish near you for details. If you are unable to participate in-person, online options are available. Examples include Virtual Catholic Conference, Plating Grace or Guided Lenten Studies, Reflections or Apps.
If you haven't received the sacrament of reconciliation in a long time, Lent is the ideal time to go. "Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart ..." (Joel 2:12). Many parishes provide additional opportunities to receive this sacrament during Lent through Lenten Penance Services across Arkansas. These typically include a short service with prayers, readings and songs, followed by private, individual confessions with priests stationed throughout the church. Contact your parish for details. If you miss your parish service, the new Divine Mercy Shrine in Little Rock offers the sacrament every day of the week but Monday.
I don't know about you, but fast-food fish sandwiches get really old during Lent. Just because you are abstaining from meat on Fridays doesn't mean you meals have to be boring. Sample a recipe from Arkansas Catholic readers who shared their favorite meatless meals, which are divided into main dishes, casseroles, soups and side dishes. Are you hungry yet?
Service is a great way to see Christ in the faces of those in need. There are many ways to help others. Based on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, we came up with 25 ideas to perform these works in Arkansas. These include volunteering at your parish, school or local social service organization, visiting the sick or elderly or adopting a child who needs a forever family.