What to do for Lent?

I have often struggled with the question: “What should I do for Lent?”

The road that I’m most likely to take each year is to refrain from reading new books (that is, books that I have not read before) for the duration of Lent. For me, this is a considerable mortification, since I love to read; but this practice also involves no great physical feat or social inconvenience (since I cannot always plan my social commitments and “doing Lent” is not a commonly understood excuse here in Thailand). I think this has its advantages in my own case.

But in reality, exterior mortification and penance should always be at the service of interior mortification and penance. The goal is to increase in virtue and humility, including our own understanding of ourselves, our limits, and our defects. In other words, it’s a bit like what Pope Saint Leo the Great said of Lent:

What a Christian should be doing at all times should be done now [in Lent] with greater care and devotion.

We do not aim to add something extra to our load (which would certainly be hard to separate from pride in our abilities), but simply to deepen our practice of the Christian life.



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