A Millennial’s guide to Lent

You may have missed the memo but we are about to begin the Season of Lent – historically, one of the Catholic calendar’s most important periods.

Lent is a season of 40-days of fasting that starts on Ash Wednesday and finishes on Holy Thursday. Lent prepares the faithful for Good Friday, one of the holiest days of the year because it commemorates the death of Christ.

What is Lent?

Lent tends to fly under the radar these days which may indicate that, on the one hand, we may have a penchant for a more secular lifestyle. On the other hand, the idea of Lent seems to support the millennial mentality of self-improvement.

According to one survey, 94% of millennials reported making personal improvement commitments and said they’d be willing to spend $300-a-month on self-improvement.

Modern-day initiatives like FebFast, Dry July, Ocsober, Earth Hour and the 40-hour-famine have gained mainstream popularity – not to mention detox diets and juice cleanses. In this context, Lent may look less like a throwback to medieval times and more like something of contemporary significance.

“Earth Hour is not about what everyone else does, but what I do. It’s the same with Lent,” said a millennial-city-dweller.

“The problem is bigger than me but, if I can improve myself as a person, then I’m taking the first crucial step.”

How do young Catholics observe Lent?

The flavour of the moment for urban millennials – social media – has been atop the list of things to give up for Lent for the past few years.

Some say they have given up constantly looking at their phone – limiting it to two designated times a day while others are turning it on silent for the period of Lent.

Another thought is to consider deactivating social media accounts altogether for Lent. Giving up social media can be a huge sacrifice for millennials but is worth it for young Catholics. After all, Lent is a way to connect with Christ and to contemplate the sacrifice He made for us.

According to the 2018 Twitter Lent Tracker, the top five things to give up for Lent this year are:

  1. Social media
  2. Alcohol
  3. Chocolate
  4. Meat
  5. Negativity

Modern-day tools for Lent

Unless you are giving up your phone for Lent, millennial's need not fear – there are plenty of tools to help you through the 40-day period.

Lentsanity is an app that gives you notifications before lunch and dinner - and it will remind you not to eat meat on Fridays.

3D Catholic is another app which invites you to practice three essential Catholic devotions – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – with other Catholics in your area. It lets you set daily reminders for the Angelus and fasting. It also finds opportunities to volunteer in your local area.

Pray As You Go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable devices, to help you pray whenever you find time - but particularly whilst travelling to and from work or study.

Secular sacrifice

Lent has something which can resonate with everyone - even for non-Catholics.

In spite of the fact that we live in a society that encourages capitalist consumerism, environmental crisis and climate change has made the notion of restraint and ‘going without’ sensible and trendy.

How will you be observing Lent?

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