100 Things to Do for Lent

Do you realize how soon Ash Wednesday is? Shoot, y’all, it’s time to start praying on what you’re going to do for Lent.

I’ve always loved Lent. It’s like Jesus Boot Camp–6 weeks of hardcore prayer and fasting, but then you get 7 weeks of Easter, praise the Lord, to gain back all the weight you lost in Lent.1 I’ll write more about the gift of fasting later, I’m sure, but for now, let’s get really practical.

What the heck are you going to do for Lent?

You probably know that the three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.2 Did you know that you’re supposed to do all three? Did you know that you can do more than one thing in each category? Did you know that giving up regular Coke and only drinking Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and Caffeine-free Coke is a totally lame-o way to go?3

Lent is not the time to go so hard that you die–or make others wish they were dead because you’re so cranky. It’s a time to discern what the Lord is calling you to, what he wants you to be more detached from, what sin he’s calling you to abandon, how he wants you to lean on him and love his children. But it can be hard sometimes to come up with something more fruitful than giving up soda, so I thought I’d give you some options.

Fasting is the most obvious. Even non-Catholics will ask you what you gave up for Lent. For some of us, Lent is an opportunity to root out some of the evil in our lives. Maybe it’s time to give one (or a few) of these sins up.

  1. Drunkenness
  2. Gossip
  3. Pornography
  4. Complaining–try accepting the cross you’re given instead of objecting that you’d rather choose your own.
  5. Smoking4
  6. Masturbation5
  7. Calling your sister an alien6
  8. Negativity
  9. Being snarky or short or cold or whatever it is you do that makes talking to you an act of charity
  10. Laziness–try exercising for Lent
  11. Arguing
  12. Being picky–eat whatever is set before you
  13. Judging people
  14. Comparing yourself with others
  15. Anger
  16. Immodest clothing
  17. Impure books/television/movies/music
  18. Lying
  19. Cursing
    .
    Or maybe there’s something good in your life that you’re too dependent on. Or even something good that is healthy for you but that you could offer to the Lord for 40 days. How about:
    .
  20. Snacking
  21. Television
  22. Lunch
  23. Facebook
  24. Makeup
  25. Soda
  26. Chocolate
  27. Shopping (the frivolous kind, anyway)
  28. Secular music
  29. Sweets7
  30. Hitting the snooze button
  31. Secular reading
  32. Meat
  33. Naps
  34. Junk food
  35. Fast food
  36. A reasonable diet8
  37. Coffee
  38. Cream and sugar in your coffee9
  39. Social media
  40. Sarcasm10
  41. Scratching
  42. Your pillow
  43. Hot showers
  44. Hot food
  45. Salting your food
  46. Staying up stupid late–give yourself a bedtime!
  47. Wasting your life on the internet
  48. In that vein: youtube
  49. Wearing your favorite color
  50. Alcohol
  51. Kissing11
  52. Gum
  53. Checking your smartphone when you’re with people12
  54. Driving when you could walk
  55. Idle curiosity–try not reading every sign you pass or googling every question you have. If it doesn’t matter, be content not to know.
  56. Anything that’s about popularity–checking your blog stats, posting things on facebook that are clever but not edifying
    .
    Prayer should be at the center of your life all the time, but especially during Lent. Try one of these 50 ways to talk to God on for size, follow this daily Lenten prayer schedule to ease you in to a holy hour, or go for one of the below–altering amount and frequency if you like.
    .
  57. Daily Mass–maybe even daily!
  58. A chapter of the Bible a day. You can get through all 4 Gospels if you read 2 chapters a day and don’t skip Sundays.
  59. 10 minutes of meditation a day
  60. Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  61. Join a Bible study at your parish
  62. 20 minutes of Spiritual reading a day
  63. The Rosary–a decade or even a whole Rosary each day
  64. Go to your Church’s Lenten mission
  65. Stop by an adoration chapel on your way home each day
  66. Don’t turn on music while you drive–pray instead
  67. Subscribe to some solid Catholic blogs
  68. The Liturgy of the Hours–once a day or seven times, if you like. My favorite is the Office of Readings (Matins).
  69. Wear a crucifix
  70. Spend the time you would have spent watching TV reading the lives of the Saints or watching documentaries on the Saints
  71. Go to confession–every week, every other week, for the first time in 30 years….
  72. Pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday
  73. Get up early to pray13
  74. List 5 things you’re grateful for every day
  75. Journal
  76. Blog!
  77. Be intentional about your time–make a schedule (with prayer featuring prominently) and stick to it
  78. Go to an art museum or a botanical gardens once a week and just rejoice in beauty
  79. Break your fast with the Eucharist every day–don’t eat until you’ve been to Mass
  80. Pick a virtue to strive for each day
  81. Spend 10 minutes each night talking to the Lord about your day–thanking him for the good and the bad, apologizing for how you fell short, asking for the grace to be better the next day
  82. Listen to Christian music while you drive
  83. Listen to Catholic CDs while you drive
  84. Pick a Saint to be like and do it
  85. Lectio Divina
  86. Pay attention at Mass
    .
    Almsgiving isn’t always as easy as giving money to the poor. Figure out how you need to love the people around you and do it.
    .
  87. Donate the money you would have spent on whatever you’re fasting from
  88. Spend the time you would have spent watching TV with your family
  89. Visit a nursing home–and bring your little ones if you have them. Nothing takes the awkward out of talking to old people you don’t know like a baby.
  90. Step up your tithing game from 10% to 15%
  91. Invite a priest or religious to dinner
  92. Do that rice bowl thing
  93. Save up all your change (and maybe even your singles) and give them to charity.14
  94. Write letters to your grandparents
  95. Call your mother
  96. Volunteer once a week–soup kitchen, shoveling snow, the nursery at church, whatever!
  97. Give someone a compliment every day
  98. Take someone to lunch every week–a lonely coworker, a neighbor you don’t always love, one of your children
  99. Perform an act of charity every day–do the dishes when it’s not your turn, take your kids to that awful playground they love so much, talk to your parents in multiple-word sentences, pick up litter
  100. Tell someone about Jesus

Shoot, friends, that’s a lot of stuff–what else would you recommend?

More ideas from LifeTeen here and here. Nick did me one better with his 101 Lenten practices–but he wrote it three years ago, so I can’t be bitter. Any other sites with good suggestions?

Well, shoot, I added this post to Haley’s Little Holy Days linkup–my very first linkup ever–and totally forgot to add a link back to hers and all the other great Lent posts! And now we’re almost a week into Lent and probably done with any serious traffic on this post,15 but you should click over and see what other people have to say about Lent. Enjoy!

  1. This is how I know my fasting is not just dieting–because while I may lose weight during Lent, I gain it all back (and then some) during the Octave of Easter. []
  2. Giving to the poor []
  3. I’m looking at you, Nathan. []
  4. Not necessarily a sin, but it’s fair to call it a vice, anyway, right? []
  5. Yeah, I went there. []
  6. Or, more broadly, making fun of people. I didn’t do Lent growing up, but I did make this New Year’s resolution once. You’re welcome, Rosie. []
  7. Stephen Colbert hadn’t tried his own ice cream flavor because he gave up sweets for Lent. Love him. []
  8. Options include: going vegan, a juice fast, bread and water, or (my favorite) gray and tasteless. I actually went an entire Lent eating only plain, flavorless foods like oatmeal and dry toast. Consult your spiritual director–and maybe your doctor–before doing anything that ridiculous. []
  9. The only time I’ve ever had black coffee was during the Triduum. How do people drink that stuff?? John Paul (my nephew, not the pope) says it tastes like sidewalk and orange peels. I think it tastes like regurgitated tar. []
  10. Yes, I’m counting this as a good thing. Did you read my post on 1 Corinthians? That thing was awesome. []
  11. Probably a bad call if you’re married. []
  12. Maybe this should go in our first category…. []
  13. I do not recommend combining this with giving up your snooze button. If you’re anything like me, one of them will have to give. []
  14. If you do this, switching to your credit card for every purchase is cheating. FYI. []
  15. Except for the slackers out there–hi! []

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About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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34 Responses to 100 Things to Do for Lent

  1. Thanks for planning my Lent lesson for me, Meg! :)

    • Meg says:

      Every year, I would spend a whole day just brainstorming each of these categories for each class. Very fun and prompted lots of good discussion :)

  2. This is like the Lent cheat sheet! Pinning :)

  3. lee lanier says:

    To begin with I love you Jason, thanks for the information, I am Baptist but I see more dedication to worship in the Catholic’s, I bought a NAB- ST.BENEDICT BIBLE – Revised Edition. Because of disability I study GOD’S word every day, my future plans after my next surgery I plan on enrolling at CHRISTIAN. BIBLE COLLEGE in Rocky Mount,NC. , keep me up dated

  4. Buster says:

    Smoking isn’t a sin.

    • Meg says:

      That’s fair, but I’m not sure it really fits in the second category either. I added a footnote to point out that it’s not necessarily a sin. Thanks!

    • Judy says:

      Smoking can definitely be sinful.
      If someone refuses to quit smoking, though their health is failing…they are spending more money than they have to spend…and, they are contaminating their body, which is supposed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit…then, they are making a “false god” or “idol” out of smoking and are therefore breaking the First Commandment.

  5. Ute says:

    Give up eating out. Saves a lot of money that you can give to the poor.
    Say yes to the mess. Do some projects with your kids that you would usually avoid because of the clean-up involved. It’s a great gift to give them.
    Establishing or sticking to a cleaning/chore routine to bless your family and get the house sparkling by Easter.
    Can you tell I’m a stay at home mom?

  6. Great list…challenging but still funny. I still don’t know why so many people seem to entirely give up humor for Lent. Thanks for sharing. (I’m visiting from the Little Holydays linkup.)

  7. Jamie says:

    These are great!!! No joke, I think I’m going to make one of mine “get dressed every day” – I’ve been staying in pajamas way too often lately…:/

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  9. James Moursund says:

    Hi Meg,

    I’m glad you posted this article. I’m an Episcopalian, and I found your list very helpful for some ideas for lent. I was able to pick out a few that would be good for me to focus on. :)

    I have a question for your list: You suggest giving up secular music and reading. Wow! That’s hard to do! Funnily enough, I’m a music major in college, so it’s near impossible – haha. :) Do you think these are healthy activities that one could offer to the Lord? I’m slightly confused!

    Thanks again for taking the time to post this. I admire your testimony. :)

    -James M.-

    • Meg says:

      Oh, absolutely, James! That’s why it’s in the “good things” section. Part of the beauty of Lent is that we’re challenged to take something good and abstain for the sake of a greater good. Nobody could do everything on this list and for a music major to give up secular music would be imprudent. There’s great grace in learning to make the secular sacred by offering it to the Lord–maybe a Lenten practice for you could be worshiping through secular music? Let me know how it goes and thanks for reading!

  10. Hannah says:

    Wow!!! This list is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing, and for linking up with Little HolyDays. Also, I love the idea of Lent as ‘Jesus Boot Camp’ :)

  11. Sarina says:

    Thank you for this! :)

  12. Cat says:

    I gave up Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for lent…I was spending too much time on those sites! Tonight I was lucky to find some new blogs with some Lenten reading so I figure this is ok. Thanks for the list of ideas…there is so much more that I am capable of doing. Good night and God Bless.

  13. Dy-Anne says:

    I wish I had seen this before Lent. I would have added something to my giving up Atheism for Lent sacrifice.

  14. Lu says:

    I donate blood as part of my almsgiving! It seems particularly appropriate since Jesus saved us with his blood and one unit of donated blood can save three lives!

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  17. Sandra says:

    This is generally a helpful list, but I have a problem with the ‘sins’ department. We aren’t supposed to ‘give up’ sins for Lent… then what happens when Lent is over? Are we supposed to be able to pick them right back up? Sins are meant to be given up ALL the time… Giving up something for Lent isn’t a New Years resolution. To put it simply, it’s impossible to ‘fast’ from a sin; fasting during Lent is for a deeper mortification of the senses. We give up something that is GOOD because we love Christ more than even the temporary goodness of earthly things… which, in turn, will help strengthen us to defeat temptation toward sin when it comes our way. You can, however, give up something that is generally good that might correspond with a particular sin that you battle… for instance, if you are particularly tempted towards sexual sins, give up snacking in between meals in order to curb your sensual appetite; if you are tempted towards greed or gluttony, give up eating out; if you are tempted towards vanity, give up makeup or even looking in the mirror; if you’re tempted towards gossip, give up Facebook! The list goes on… snacking, eating out, looking in a mirror, and Facebook can all be good things — but giving up these earthly goods help us to grow in virtue and to more firmly orient our hearts in the Eternal! Give up evil and sin ALWAYS, not just for 40 days…

    • Wendy says:

      I agree with you, Sandra. However, I will also say that “giving up” a sin or a bad habit for Lent can be the first step in helping you to be free of it altogether. More than once, real progress in my spiritual life has come from saying, “I will make a concerted effort to ______ (something I should do) or to keep from ______ (something I should not do) every day during Lent.

      For me, I need a focus or a reason for big changes, and in Lent, entering more deeply into prayer and contemplation of our Lord’s passion has helped to give me the focus and the reason for cultivating good habits or eradicating bad ones. It didn’t mean that I was free to go back to my “old way” after Lent, it meant that I used Lent as a foothold for positive change.

      And no, you should never need a reason for giving up a sin or a bad habit….Jesus already gave us the only reason we need. But as I say, I’m the kind of person who sometimes needs an extra push in the right direction. Often Lent (or Advent) is that opportunity for me.

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  22. McClain Smith says:

    this year for lent im giving up watching tv and movies (exept if im with friends) and im going to be reading a chapter of the bible everyday. This will be extremely hard but its what im going to do. im also going to every night at 9:30 put my phone on sleep mode (exept if im babysitting and doing something when my parents arnt home, e.t.c)

  23. bijjo says:

    hi meg.. thanks for your lent days to do list.
    meg Jesus With You. god bless

    BJ

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