For Lent: Redefine True Womanhood

Woman from Baroque PeriodForget giving up sweets with the subtle hope of losing the last couple pounds [guilty].  This Lent, explore what it means to be of the dust of Eve.

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 (


  • Replace Katy Perry with the music of Catholic artist Danielle Rose.  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 and
  • 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 Alms:

  • 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. (
  • 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.
  • Cultivate awareness of women’s issues around the world.  Respond to those needs that especially compel you.


Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus.

Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at

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  • Stephanie Loomis

    I especially like the idea of fasting from negative self talk…so important in our current culture!

  • Blair Mancini

    I think finding a suitable replacement for Katy Perry music should be a lifelong calling for all humans.

  • This is my first year of practicing Lent in any way, so I went with the obvious and gave up chocolate, but I really love the idea of giving up negative self talk.  I might do both.

  • Craftynester

    And in giving of your time or treasure to woman’s groups, be very careful that they are not affiliated with any pro-abortion group. For example, Susan G. Komen gives funds to Planned Parenthood.

  • Jane

    Lisa, so glad to hear you are starting a Lenten practice.  (I’m giving up chocolate too!)  Best of luck and all graces to you this Lent.

  • Jane

    I agree Stephanie, and very difficult to be vigilant about in my experience.  Once I decided to give up self-deprecating comments and give compliments, but being aware of them was half the battle.

  • Jane

    Good point.  A little research goes a long way.

    I like the idea of donating to local Catholic women’s organizations, shelters, and crisis pregnancy centers.  That way you know the money is going straight into your community.

  • snipercatcher

    Thank you, Jane, but why just women’s organizations and married people? Shouldn’t it be the person/organization who needs you most? Or maybe the person who drives you crazy but really needs help?

  • Jane

    Hi Snipercatcher,

    I suppose I suggested these because they relate to the Lenten practice of meditating on true womanhood.

    But you bring up a good point – at times God presents us spontaneously with people and groups that really need us, and it’s up to us to cultivate the kind of availability (time-wise and attitude-wise) that allows us to see these gifts.  Not all our giving can be premeditated.

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