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Developing holy habits during Lent

Maria Montemayor

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Photo by Nik Guiney on Unsplash
Many people associate Lent with sacrifice and giving up something they enjoy. However, Lent isn’t just about suffering and repentance: it’s also about spiritual growth. It’s a time for introspection, reflection, and self-examination. As Catholics, we are called to look inward, turn away from our vices, and seek God’s healing, strength, and guidance to make positive changes in our lives.  
Change is hard, and many habits are ingrained. A few years ago, I was able to develop the habit of praying and exercising in the morning. Since I started working at Salt + Light Media,  I have been able to maintain the habit of praying the Rosary and breviary daily, although I don't exercise as consistently. So, how can you let go of unproductive habits and develop holy ones during this season of Lent?
Make a list of the habits you want to change
Write down all of the habits that you are not fond of. Perhaps you spend too much time watching YouTube. It can even be a habit of going to bed late, gossiping, or complaining. 
Next, write down spiritual practices to replace the habits you are not fond of. For example, instead of watching YouTube, you can read a chapter from the Bible or a book by a saint. Whenever you feel the urge to complain, see what you can do to mitigate the situation instead. For sleeping early, set a timer for your ideal sleep time and head to bed when the timer goes off. While in bed, you can close your eyes and go through the Ignatian Examen before you sleep. Whenever you feel the urge to gossip, stop yourself, and pray to St. Michael the Archangel instead. There are many other habits you can change and spiritual practices that you can add to your Lent
Choose an accountability partner
An accountability partner is someone who can help you stay motivated as you endeavour to change your habits. You can ask your spouse, friend, or spiritual director to be your accountability partner. This person’s role would be to check in with you, encourage you, and hold you accountable for the spiritual practices you want to develop during Lent. Be honest with your accountability partner about your struggles and successes, and be willing to accept constructive feedback. 
Be patient with yourself and don’t give up
Even if you find yourself reverting to old habits, don’t give up on your Lenten goals. Keep on trying, even if you have to take baby steps to succeed. If praying the entire Rosary seems too daunting, start off by asking Mother Mary for her intercession. If certain habits seem too difficult to change, you can spend some time in Adoration and and tell Jesus about your struggles. Keep track of your habits in a journal so that, regardless of whether you fully change your habits or not, by the end of Lent you can offer God prayers of thanksgiving for all of the challenges and victories.

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