The following are some creative takes on how to approach the three penitential practices – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – in order to cultivate a sense of true womanhood. Readers, please include any other ideas in the ‘comments’ section! God bless your Lenten journey.
- Pray the rosary. Yes, the whole thing!
- Reflect on women’s stories in Scripture:
[Books of Judith, Esther, Ruth, Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-24), Sarah’s Laugh (Genesis 18:1-15), Psalm 45, Psalm 139, The Godly Woman (Proverbs 31), The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42), The Woman with the Hemorrhage and Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 5:21-43), Marian stories of the Gospels]
- Rally the troops – include Mass in your weekend activities with friends, or alter your coffee shop conversation to include spirituality.
- Contemplate the unique aspects of womanhood, and of your femininity, and pray about ways to put these into action.
- Pray for your vocation – your future spouse or religious order.
- Read Mulieribus Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html)
- Replace Katy Perry with the music of Catholic artist Danielle Rose. http://www.daniellerose.com/. Fast from media and entertainment sources that mar the dignity of women, or that contribute to a woman’s negative body image.
- Replace time spent reading Vogue or watching Grey’s Anatomy with time browsing Catholic women’s websites such as altcatholicah.com and thenewfeminism.net.
- Replace time shopping with time making handmade gifts and cards for friends and relatives, to show you care.
- Fast from negative self-talk about your value or appearance.
- Dress modestly.
- Fast from gossip.
- Close the chatterbox – take time to listen in your relationships.
- Fast from romanticizing married life or religious life, or other peoples’ lives in general. Renew living joyfully; your life is a great romance with the Lord!
- Give some of your free time to busy married friends, especially those with children. Go out of your way to visit, babysit, bring over a meal, help around the house, etc.
- Clean out your closet – donate clothes, shoes and accessories to a local women’s shelter. To quote a CFR friend, “Poor people like nice clothes, too.”
- Explore opportunities to enact the Corporal Works of Mercy. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10198d.htm)
- Donate time and money to local organizations that support women in need and women’s issues.
- Become an active voice in women’s issues in politics. http://www.catholicvote.org/index.php
- Cultivate awareness of women’s issues around the world. Respond to those needs that especially compel you.