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Sustaining Your Lenten Plan

By: Guest blogger on February 26th, 2024

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Sustaining Your Lenten Plan

Lenten Prayer  |  Lenten plans  |  Catholic Faith

Lent is a lot like running.  

When I’m in solid running shape, there is nothing more exhilarating than setting out on an adventurous 5-mile trail run through the forest. The view of God’s handiwork in nature, the sounds of birds and running streams, the mental break from the busyness of life, and the adrenaline that comes from a good workout are blessings that come from a decent trail run.   

On the other hand, when I’m not in good running shape, there is nothing more painful and overwhelming than to set out on a torturous 5-mile jog in the forest. The sight of a hill, slippery rocks, and exposed tree roots are all unwelcome obstacles along the way. Other than the physical pain from months away from such strenuous exercise, the only thought is when the jog/crawl will be over. When ill-prepared, the trail run is less of an adventure and more of an arduous duty I must get through.  


2024 Lent Dyke Blog 2 


What Is Your Experience of Lent 


Is the latter similar to your experience early into Lent? Too often, it has been mine. We set out on Ash Wednesday with an ambitious plan to make this our “best Lent ever” as we follow Jesus into the desert (or forest, to go with the running analogy). We commit to waking up early for morning prayer and spiritual reading. Perhaps we will throw in a Rosary to pray on our commute to work or with our family in the evening. Maybe our plans will include more spiritual reading or time in the Bible. If possible, we attend daily Mass. 


Additionally, we decide to give up something tangible like sweets, coffee, hot showers, sports radio, or specific apps on our smartphones. And like an overambitious, out-of-shape runner, we set out on the trail of Lent at a breakneck race pace with unrealistic goals, only to trip on a rock about a mile into our adventure. Exhausted and injured, we are now resigned to hobbling for the rest of our Lenten trail run to the Easter finish line, hoping to just make it through to the end.  


Grace and Hope Abound 


As with every stumbling block we encounter there is always hope. If this is you, perhaps our stumble this early in Lent is part of God’s plan for our growth in holiness and self-awareness. In the end, our stumble may do us more good than unhindered success, as we are now able to run the race more aware of ourselves and the need for God’s grace to fuel and guide us on this Lenten journey to Easter.   


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A Sustainable Plan 


Before developing a plan for the remainder of your Lenten trail run, below are some questions to consider.    

  • What have I learned about myself and my run (or walk) with Jesus so far this Lent?   
  • Were my expectations too high, too low, or just plain unrealistic?   
  • If Ash Wednesday were tomorrow, what would I do differently?  
  • What obstacles have prevented me from doing what I set out to do this Lent? How can I avoid them in the future?  
  • How should I readjust my goals and set realistic expectations for the remainder of Lent so I can journey with Jesus at a more manageable pace?  

Once we’ve adjusted our plan, let’s brush ourselves off and get back up on that trail. We’ve got little more than a month left. Keep the pace, and remember, Jesus is our running partner on this Lenten trail to Easter.   

Craig Dyke is Interim Coordinator and Consultant on Marriage and Family Evangelization for Family Rosary, USA.