To Start off we have Fasting: In the spirit of piety, fasting is a beautiful way to strengthen our soul. Fasting helps us to deny the flesh and the love of worldly pleasures. Which can be difficult some times. There are lots of ways we can fast and learn to have mind over body. I like to think of a simple thing like taking cold showers. I hate cold showers. I feel like most everyone could agree that cold showers are really... really... torturous. Okay maybe im going a little extreme. But my body does not like cold showers. Now I think it would take a great deal of will power to get myself to take a cold shower and I dont think I could just take one without a purpose. Here is the catch we can unite our sufferings with the redemptive suffering of Christ on the cross. If we take our day to day suffering, our fasting, our self denial no matter how big or small it is and say here you go Jesus. Now if I was to take a cold shower suddenly the tables turn. My mind and soul becomes in charge I am no longer a slave to my body. Even better yet God can use my suffering. My tiny annoyance of a silly cold shower He can use for his greater glory and redemption of all sinners. Well I guess I just convinced myself to get on with those cold showers.
Here is a link to a podcast from Mathew Leonard. Give it a listen. Its a stunning 30 min to help you learn how to have a meaningful lent and not let it pass you by but transform you. http://matthewsleonard.com/?powerpress_pinw=2214-podcast
Next up is Prayer: Prayer is vital in having a relationship with God. When you are in love with a person, you want to talk to them all the time. You spend an abundant amount of time with that person. You cant stop thinking about them wanting to know more about this person you are in love with. Basically your life revolves around this person. Same should be our relationship with God. We should fall in love with him. But first as my mom would say "communication is key" in order to have any good relationship. This is why prayer is so important in our relationship with God. We have to talk with God. We can fall in love with God and have a deeply intimate relationship with God through constant communion with him. And boy its harder than just talking about it. At first it seems particularly hard because it takes a lot of perseverance and dedication. (so here is where mortification and prayer meet dun dun duuuun). At my sweet fiancees request I am reading a book called "into the deep" By Dan Burke. I am cant help but sit in awe as I read " The God of the universe created you for the sole purpose of fulfilling this longing-- to be with you, to commune with you, to die for your sins so that you could be eternally reconciled to him and draw into a relationship of love that is more important than any relationship you will ever have in this life."
Isn't that just beautiful.
Lastly alms giving: Alms giving is something I overlook a lot of times. I'll put it aside saying I'll give when I make more money. Maybe when I am older and am more financially secure. But gee wiz I have too many excuses. I only just learned the necessity of why it is direly important to give and be generous. In another podcast from Mathew Leonard, he explains how so many times Jesus uses a parallel between debaters to sinners, God to creditors. In a the most simplistic way I can think to say it, God forgives us of our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us. Right? Just as in the prayer he taught, the Our Father. Just as so God has given us great abundant blessings, life itself is a blessing and we often time fall short we sin. So not only is it good to give back to God through alms giving it is a dire need to give back to God. Because we have fallen short! It's a life or death matter. In the Bible, in the book of Mark 10 17-27, a rich man approaches Jesus and says, " good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life" to which Jesus Replies and says " Go sell what you have, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me" at that the man went away sad. Jesus then turns and says to his disciples, " how hard it is for those that have riches. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into heaven." My oh my does Jesus have some bold things to say about giving and living. Now here is a different tone, the other day I was shown a post on Instagram with a caption that blew me away. It was on a Instagram post by neekmason. She writes "At the end of the day it is not about money, what you can't afford, what you would've done if you had this or that, if you had "that job", but rather how you spent your time, what you paid attention too, and how much you loved. Whenever I start getting stressed about money or things, I start giving them away. I pay for someone else's meal when I feel like I can't even afford mine. I never like the feeling that something so silly could measure my worth or someone else's. It's the times I've had the least that I've given the most, and it's the times that I remembered to notice the little things that I look back on and never want to forget." Hearing her caption had me going woah. Yet thinking to myself that what she said was a desirable lifestyle. Giving even though you feel like you already have nothing. I realized how close this caption on Instagram really embodies how generosity should be looked at. Yeah it's a struggle but once again it's a form of denying ourselves what we want to make a sacrifice for others. That is how God wants us to live. With a generous heart and not enslaved to our riches.
Here is Mathew Leonard's podcasts on almsgiving
Part 1 http://matthewsleonard.com/?powerpress_pinw=1517-podcast
Part 2 http://matthewsleonard.com/?powerpress_pinw=1531-podcast
Neekmason Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neekmason/?hl=en
If you are interester in learning how to pray and going deeper into a relationship with God, here is the book my fiancée requested I read. https://dynamiccatholic.com/into-the-deep-hardcover