A Lenten Spiritual Exercise for Men
The 2021 Lenten Forum
Join other downtown professional men in a 40 day Lenten program by committing to the fundamentals of our faith through a regiment of prayer and daily acts of piety, acts of asceticism and almsgiving, working together for encouragement, accountability and transferring on the faith to each other.
“Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” – Pope Francis, Lenten Message, 2014
Relearn the satisfaction of self-mastery and freedom.
How It Works
- Each member will be assigned to a group of 5 to 7 men, with a team leader as facilitator.
- Together the members commit to a simple structure of prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and fraternity, with accountability and encouragement for each other.
- Groups will meet weekly, in most instances by Zoom. Each group may consider one or more in person meetings if the participants are comfortable.
The program is designed to take advantage of the grace-filled time that is Lent and seek to develop generous habits that can become Second Nature in us. Thus, when Easter Sunday comes we will be a little closer to the better man that those around us deserve that we become.
The various practices are meant to be challenging, but doable in ordinary circumstances. We want our Lenten habits to be keepers!
This Lent we want to build up a habit of daily prayer, participate in the Sacraments more frequently, and live a few other acts of piety. In accord with the disciplines of prayer during Lent, the following practices will be taken up:
§ Morning Offering: a short prayer or conversation with God (1 min. or less) immediately on getting up, to offer the day to Him and ask for grace to live it well.
§ Mental Prayer: 10 minutes twice a day.
"To pray is to talk with God, but about what? About Him, and yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, great ambitions, daily worries -even your weaknesses! To get to know Him and to get to know yourself. "to get acquainted!" (The Way, n.91)
§ Holy Mass: Add at least one Mass a week to your weekly Sunday Mass.
§ Daily Rosary.
§ Gospel Reading: 5 minutes each day.
§ Spiritual Direction: If you don't have it yet, start spiritual direction with a priest (the priests at Holy Cross Chapel are available; you can call to make an appointment.)
§ Sacrament of Reconciliation: once at the beginning of Lent and once at the end of Lent (at Holy Cross Chapel priests are usually available from 10am to 2pm Monday through Friday; call to confirm.)
§ Examination of Conscience: Brief (3 min) Examination of Conscience at the end of each day.
§ Weekly Get Together: Attend a 30 minute weekly meeting (typically by Zoom) with a talk given by your team leader and opportunity to share and reflect on the area of focus for the week.
§ Evening of Recollection: Attend (in person or by Zoom) the Evening of Recollection at Holy Cross Chapel, where all the groups will come together (date to be announced soon).
Fasting and acts of asceticism:
It is time 'to stop, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things.' Pope Francis.
§ Attend to the prescribed norms of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent.
§ Daily Heroic Minute: "It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural thought and... up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken to your body." (The Way, n.206)
§ Fast from individualistic entertainment (social media, movies, sports, etc. by yourself; limit news to once daily), thus protecting family time.
§ Avoid non-constructive conversations both at home (be optimistic and encouraging with spouse and children), and at work (avoid office gossip, wasting time, etc.)
§ Consider the lessons we can take from this time of separation and suffering. How to “offer up” physical illness, loneliness or separation from family and friends. How praying for those we are physically separated from can help us stay close.
“Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.” Pope Francis
§ Live out the connection between Fast and Alms: "Grant us, Lord, to be able to abstain from what is superfluous, that we may be capable of helping our brethren in need." (from the Liturgy of the Hours)
§ Each member/group can devise a plan that will focus on what they can give back in time, talent, -with preference on family life first, then friends, co-workers and neighbors- and treasure, with preference on the poor.
§ Consider acts of service particular to a time of pandemic - ways to ease the isolation or suffering of family and friends, ways to support public health officials and medical workers.
Fraternity: The small group gatherings will provide the support and fraternity we need to not travel this road alone.
As we travel this journey of Lent together, we may sometimes stumble and fall, but then, with the support and encouragement of others, we get up and begin again,
"A brother helped by his brother is as strong as a walled city" (Prov. 18, 19)
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" (Ps 133,1)
“Lent is a ‘powerful’ season, a turning point that can foster change and conversion in each of us. We all need to improve, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus we leave behind old habits and the lazy addiction to the evil that deceives and ensnares us.” – Pope Francis, General Audience, March 5, 2014
Our weekly gatherings will be times for sharing our experiences, supporting each other and being accountable to our friends for making progress during the week on our spiritual goals.