With Lent starting on Wednesday, many haven’t even thought about what to give up this year, for many, its the same thing every year, coffee, sweets, etc. But here are some unconventional ideas that you might like to give a try this year.
Remember Lent isn’t about giving up something that you can do without, it’s about the sacrifice of giving up or doing something that will be a challenge for you, to understand the pain and suffering that Our Lord Jesus endured for us.
- “This year I’m giving up shoes as often as possible. I’ll still wear shoes if I’m doing a work project or if I have to fly on a plane. But I’m going to avoid going to places that require shoes.” – Paul
- “I’m addicted to caffeine so I gave up all drinks but water for Lent two years ago.” – Amanda
- “Last year I didn’t give up anything for Lent, just added more prayer time. This year I’m going to add more prayer time and give up Facebook.” – Josephina
- “I gave up spoons and forks. I learned to use chopsticks. It was funny for my friends and made it easy to talk about Lent in a way people were cool with. We laughed a lot.” – Matt
- “I’ve heard of people giving up their beds for Lent and sleeping on the floor or couch.” – Anna
- “I fasted for all of Lent one year. 1 meal a day really brings souls to Jesus, especially your own!” – Erika
- “I’m going to treat my body as a temple of God during lent… everything I read, watch, listen to, eat, drink, do, say, etc … focusing on being a temple of God.” – Paul
- “One year for Lent I wrote a letter each day. I made a list of 40 people who have touched my life in one way or another. Each day of Lent, I wrote a person on the list a letter of thanks for how they touched my life and I prayed for that person on that day… it was a WONDERFUL experience!!!” – Patty
- “I tried improving on my spirit of giving.” – Peter
- “This year, I’m giving up the radio in my car in order to focus more on the things around me that God created! I can’t wait so I’ve already started doing it!” – Joshua
- “One year I gave up my bed. I slept outside in a tent. And I live in Canada! So it was well below freezing! I even kept a blog on MySpace. Another year I made a few shirts out of burlap, and wore them under my regular clothes for all of Lent. Both were hard, but really helped me those years.” – Brandon
- “This year, I’m giving up all sweets, (I work at a frozen yogurt shop) and am going to use the constant reminder to pray for one person in particular every day, I made a list/calendar via Facebook of friends that need/want prayer.” – Aimee
- “I have an issue with vanity, especially when I get ready in the morning. So I decided a couple of years ago to just wear the first outfit I put on every morning. What I learned from that was how to get a source of self esteem beyond my outfits.” – Carrie
- “I didn’t do this, but last year two of my friends gave up warm water for their showers.” – Maria
- “This year I’m giving up having my phone with me during the day because I’m always checking my email throughout the day. My hope is that having moderation I can be more present to the people around me. I want them to see my deeper connection with God.” – Kaitlin
- “I want to listen more.” – Carmelina
- “I have given up makeup in the past, and this year I am giving up meat!” – Kimberly
- “Usually during Lent, on top of giving up something we love but don’t need, we say that any money that is found in the laundry, couches and anywhere else was Gods money and we gave it to the poor. I remember one of the first years we did this, I found a $20 bill in a parking lot.” – Alyssa
- “Two years ago I went to adoration every day during Lent, I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t make it every day but I made it most of the time and it changed my life to get and be with Jesus that much, it was an awesome experience.” – Jacob
- “I know a girl who said she only listened to Christian music during Lent. She said it was hard at first, but soon love the depth and meaning behind many Christian songs.” – Molly
- “Getting more involved in the church … time and talent. More prayer as in … the rosary and novenas really get into some SERIOUS PRAYER!! Getting help for my depression. Alongside giving up meat on Fridays. Focusing on being a better Christian in general, being more concerned and in tuned to God’s plan for me and my family as opposed to ‘our plans’ for our lives.” – Erika
- “Getting to the 3rd floor using stairs, not the escalator or elevator.” – Francesca
- “I’ve adopted a priest in Chile… I offer daily prayers and sacrifices for Father Juan Nunes!!!” – Tony
- “I’ve never done it but I’ve heard of people giving up their snooze button on their alarm clock. They said it was harder then they thought, but it taught them a lot about discipline.” – Jessica
- “I didn’t do it for all of Lent, but for Holy week last year I gave up my pillow. Honestly at first it was fun, but proved to be hard. But it made me realize how blessed I am to even have a bed.” – Sara
Ideas for Adults
- Fast with one full meal, no snacks one day a week.
- Skip meat an extra day (or two) a week
- Give up alcoholic beverages. (Except in social situations; then you only have one)
- Give up coffee (or reduce to one cup a day)
- Give up all desserts
- Give up all unnecessary shopping
- Fast from music in the car
- Fast from talk radio
- Begin (or begin again) the daily Rosary
- Meditate for 10 minutes a day (get a Magnificat to follow those)
- Choose one extra devotion per week during Lent: Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration or a weekday Mass
- Read a book on the Life of Christ
- Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s 74-page section on prayer.
Almsgiving / Charity
- Visit a nursing home
- Forgive someone and patch things up in a visit, or, if necessary, by phone or letter
- Give up gossip, judging or profanity.
- Find one “act of forgiveness” to make every day: A driver who cuts you off, a co-worker annoys you, a shopper who cuts in line, a store clerk who is rude or a family member who ignores your needs.
- Say a kind word to everyone you meet.
- Pay a significant compliment (or more) to each of your children or family members
- Offer to watch the children of a new mother one day a week throughout Lent
- Visit an elderly friend or relative
- Save up a significant amount of money for a deserving charity or apostolate.
For Children and Teens
If none of the adult ideas work for you, try:
- Do chores without complaining
- Draw pictures of Holy Week events
- Restrict your TV, Internet or Music time
- Restrict your phone time
- Send a letter or picture to a grandmother, aunt or Godparent
- Make a new friend, outside the ‘crowd’
- Be a friend to a shy person
- Give up that bad place, person or thing
- Choose a favorite toy, book or piece of clothing and put it away until Easter
I’ll leave you with an important saying:
“Fasting without prayer, is just starving yourself”