Half the Stuff -- Twice the Joy
A Calendar for Lent
Use this 40-day guide for your personal inspiration and growth. Share it with others! Make as many copies as you like without paying any royalty under the Creative Commons attribution, not-for-profit license.
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This calendar encourages us to take time to reflect and renew. We listen to discern God's desires for our lives and world. Suggestions for thought or action are offered for each of the 40 days of Lent. Set aside time each day to consider the day's suggestion. Choose a project you want to support, and find an empty container to collect your offerings. At the end of the 40 days, the organization of your choice will be pleased at your generosity.
- 1 Ash Wednesday. Read Matthew 6:1. Am I willing to give alms, pray and fast this Lent?
- 2 Thursday. February is Black History Month. Investigate African-American influences on our culture. Consider the evil of racism - America's Original Sin - throughout our history and now.
- 3 Friday. Read Matthew 6:19-21. Look back on St. Valentine's Day, named for the patron saint of prisoners. Promise yourself to learn more about the real meaning of his life, not the commercial meaning foisted on us each year. Pray for prisoners, prison guards and prison chaplains.
- 4 Saturday. Prayer before eating meat: Loving God, Thank you for creating this animal that I may be nourished. Let me never abuse my body or waste any of Your creation. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- First Sunday in Lent. Read Matthew 4:1-11. Am I willing to enter "the wilderness?"
- 5 Monday. To help control overconsumption, try the "halving principle" for toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Try using only half the amount you normally use. Magically the tube gets twice as big. If it works, halve it again till you've found your proper amount. Start halving one thing each day or week.
- 6 Tuesday. Vow to simplify the next birthday party you plan. For example, consider this invitation and concept: You're Invited to ___'s "Simpler Living" Birthday Un-Party [day/date/time/place]. Simple food and drink provided. Friendly conversation. In the tradition of "alternative giving," instead of gifts or cards for ___, bring something useful that you're willing to give up and NOT replace (to be donated to Goodwill) OR bring cash to give to your choice of several worthy causes. Then we'll "open" these presents by sharing what we've done.
- 7 Wednesday. Let's simplify our anniversary celebrations. For example, let the spouse who usually doesn't cook, clean, mow the yard, do it for the other.
- 8 Thursday. How many ways can we simplify the next wedding or other celebration we plan to reflect our real, deep faith values instead of what's foisted on us by peer pressure and advertising?
- 9 Friday. Why not simplify the next graduation party or rite of passage we plan? Two especially helpful resources about celebrations - "To Celebrate" and "Treasury of Celebrations" - are available from Alternatives.
- 10 Saturday. Prayer before driving: Faithful God, Forgive my waste of non-renewable resources. Help me consider ways to drive that use less fuel and other, healthier means of transportation. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- Second Sunday in Lent. Read John 3:1-17. In terms of materialism, how can I be "born from above?"
- 11 Monday. (John 3:8) This week apply the halving principle not only to products but also to bad habits - overconsumption of caffeine (like coffee) and other unhealthy foods.
- 12 Tuesday. March is Women's History Month. Consider the evil of sexism throughout our history and now. Where does tokenism reinforce sexist dynamics and systems?
- 13 Wednesday. Consider "investing" in micro-enterprises, usually run by women in Third World Countries. Small loans help them to start businesses to support their families. The repayment rate is very high.
- 14 Thursday. Americans are now spending more on gambling (including lotteries) than on GROCERIES! Are we becoming a nation of addicts? Where do I find addictive tendencies in my life, family?
- 15 Friday. Grocery store loyalty cards may save us a little money but they primarily collect data about us to sell us more stuff through "target marketing." How can I avoid becoming a victim of this?
- 16 Saturday. Prayer before showering: Generous God, Help me use only the water I need. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- Third Sunday in Lent. Read John 4:5-42. Who are the Samaritans that I avoid in my life?
- 17 Monday. This week let's work on halving unhealthy attitudes about ourselves. "Who's telling me I'm not the right weight?" Replace half the negative thoughts with positive affirmations and prayer.
- 18 Tuesday. Discourage the use of "cash stores," businesses that charge usury of 10% per week! These stores prey on those who can least afford to pay such exorbitant rates. Suggest other options, such as Credit Unions, to those who may not qualify for help through a bank.
- 19 Wednesday. Resist the Cigar Craze promoted by movie stars, magazines, smoking "clubs." Instead of a symbol of the "good life," one cigar contains more nicotine than an entire pack of cigarettes. Even if one doesn't inhale, cigars can cause mouth cancer.
- 20 Thursday. "You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor's." The ten commandments are not prioritized. This may be the last one but it's no less important than the others. It provides a strong impetus to simplify. How does coveting underlie much of consumerism?
- 21 Friday. So much overconsumption - collecting, owning, possessing - is based on coveting. We take it beyond jealousy and envy and turn coveting into competition. What does, "You shall have no other god before me" mean in this context?
- 22 Saturday. Read Psalm 95. Prayer while taking a step to simplify: Patient God, thank you for always giving me the grace to live more as a disciple of Jesus. In his name. Amen.
- Fourth Sunday in Lent. Read John 9:1-41. When might my religious observance get in the way of "seeing?"
- 23 Monday. This week work on halving negative attitudes about others.
- 24 Tuesday. 25% of the food in North America is wasted! - from spoilage at grocery stores, restaurant discards and the back of refrigerators. When dining at a restaurant, consider splitting one entree. Add a bowl of soup or salad if needed.
- 25 Wednesday. Learn about gleaning sharing surplus food from fields, restaurants, grocery stores with hungry people in your community. How does this promote the biblical concept of "Jubilee?"
- 26 Thursday. Central America Week begins March 24th. Be open to the diversity of nationalities in Central America [C.A.]. "Hispanics" are not all the same! Be open to the contributions and the needs of people from C.A. Read about a different Central American country each day of this week. Wear an item each day from C.A.
- 27 Friday. April is the month to focus on Asian-Americans. Consider their contribution to North American culture.
- 28 Saturday. Prayer while shopping. God of mystery, please help me decide if I really need this item or if I should save the money or give it away instead. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- Fifth Sunday in Lent. Read John 11:1-45. What tombs keep me from a resurrected life?
- 29 Monday. This week work on halving wasteful habits - halve the time your thermostat is above 68 degrees. Think of at least 10 ways to reduce waste.
- 30 Tuesday. Look forward to Earth Day on April 22nd. Plan now. Consider planting trees - the fourth "R" (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, RESTORE).
- 31 Wednesday. Look forward to TV-Free Week, April 22-28. Escape the Fantasy! No more radiation, laugh tracks or gratuitous sex and violence. Once we try real life, we may never want to go back to the simulated variety again. Info at 800/663-1243.
- 32 Thursday. We love people of other races because we believe that God loves them, not because it's good for the economy. Pragmatic reasons to love are like slave holders feeding their slaves so that their businesses will prosper.
- 33 Friday. Make a replacement and maintenance plan for home, appliances, etc. so you get have to do the expedient thing, even if it's not Earth friendly. A solar water heater may not be available in a hurry. Compile info gradually before you need it. As you read, put possibilities in a folder.
- 34 Saturday. Devise your own simple prayer for each activity or thought that is questionable. Or simply say softly, "Lord, have mercy."
- Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm/Passion Sunday). Read Matthew 21:1-11. What "garments" do I need to lay down before my God?
- 35 Monday. Read John 12:1-11. Decide what you want to work on halving this week.
- 36 Tuesday. Read John 12:20-36. What still needs to be "lost" in my lifestyle?
- 37 Wednesday. Read John 13:21-32 aloud at dinner tonight. Who are today's "beloved disciples"?
- 38 Maundy Thursday. Before dinner wash each other's hands gently and reflectively. Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35.
- 39 Good Friday. Read John 18:1-19:42. How does violence undermine a simple lifestyle?
- 40 Easter Eve. What animal or creature reminds us of Jesus' death and resurrection and our new life in him? Bunny? Rabbit? Chick? Think cocoon Butterfly!
- *!*Easter Sunday Evening. Read Luke 24:13-49. A young priest in a small Midwestern town on Easter wore a robe that showed Jesus on water skis and the words, "He's up!" In that spirit share with someone the Easter response, "He's up!" "He's up! You betcha!"
This 40 day Lenten calendar, based on liturgical cycle A: Matthew, is also available in Spanish. Simple Living Works! continues Alternatives' mission of "equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly." For resources for Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, weddings and other celebrations - some in Spanish - visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives.
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©Creative Commons (originally 1998, Alternatives for Simple Living)
Page updated 3 Jan. 2014
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