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Monastic discipline: 4 bits of Lenten advice for lay Catholics

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Daniel Esparza - published on 03/02/24

While embracing monastic life is not necessarily part of what most lay Catholics would consider their calling, incorporating its core principles can surely enrich your Lenten journey.

The structured and disciplined lifestyle of monks and nuns has a special appeal during Lent – a season especially dedicated to introspection, transformation, and renewal. While embracing monastic life is not necessarily part of what most lay Catholics would consider their calling, incorporating its core principles can surely enrich your Lenten journey –and foster spiritual growth throughout the year.

Here we list some of the monastic practices and values everyone can benefit from.

  • Prayer and Contemplation: Lent is a time for going deeper into prayer, seamlessly incorporating it into our everyday routines. Set aside time each day for personal prayer, attend daily Mass if possible, and participate in Lenten devotions offered by your parish.
  • Simplicity: Use Lenten traditions such as fasting and abstinence as opportunities to detach yourself from the kind of habits that are holding you down and focus on your spiritual growth. Consider simplifying your meals (or your life, in general), minimizing distractions such as excessive screen time, and even decluttering your living space.
  • Obedience: During Lent, commit to following the Lenten practices prescribed by the Church as a form of spiritual discipline. This will strengthen your will, and your connection to the wider Catholic community.
  • Service: Lent is a call to increased service. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, donate to charities that help those in need, or simply perform acts of kindness for those around you. Reflecting Christ’s message of compassion is central to the Lenten spirit.

Be sure you do not overwhelm yourself with drastic changes. Prudence is key.

Gradually incorporate these practices into your life, beginning with Lent and aiming to maintain them throughout the year.

By incorporating these monastic-inspired principles during Lent, you may experience and discover:

  • A deeper sense of the meaning of Lent: A structured spiritual practice allows you to fully engage in the season’s call to prayer and reflection.
  • Reduced stress: Simplifying your life and focusing on the essentials can create a sense of peace and calm amidst the busyness of daily life.
  • Increased purpose: Serving others fosters a sense of connection to your community and reinforces the true meaning of Lent.

While not fully replicating monastic life, incorporating these elements of discipline during Lent and beyond can provide a path to spiritual growth and a more intentional way of life for all believers – both monks and laypeople.

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LentMonksSpiritual Life
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