Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – welcome to every Catholic’s favorite game show: Let’s Do Lent!

Our categories are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, Potpourri, Traditions, and Wham-o!

Let’s dive right in with our first question. The category is: Traditions.  

Lent is a time to: a) Lose enough weight so you can turns heads in your snazzy Easter Sunday duds; b) Compete with other parish families to collect the most money for Operation Rice Bowl; c) Wear sackcloth and ashes 24/7; or d) None of the above.

And, of course, the answer is a. I mean d. Yes. The answer is most assuredly d. Here’s the real scoop from our expert judges:

Lent is a 40-day-long liturgical season that begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes with the Easter Triduum, which begins Holy Thursday. Primarily a penitential season, Lent invites the faithful to recall Jesus’s 40 days in the desert and prepare our hearts for Easter through the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

As a reminder, Lent isn’t supposed to be competitive, impossible, a weight loss program, dangerous, prideful, or a stumbling block for those around you. It is, however, a time to draw closer to God through prayer, detach and purify our souls through fasting, and give of ourselves to others through almsgiving.

Okay! Moving along to question number two. The category is: Fasting.

According to school-aged children, what is the most popular thing to give up during the season of Lent?  Is it: a) Homework; b) Eating vegetables; c) Playing video games during school hours; or d) All of the above?

The answer is: D, All of the above. Kidding aside, the church asks us to fast from food on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and from meat on Fridays of Lent. We have the opportunity to give something up or take something on that will help purify us and help conform us more to the image of Christ Jesus.

All right! Question number three. The category is: Almsgiving.

True or false: Almsgiving means giving money and/or goods to the poor and needy.

The answer is: Yes! However, it doesn’t need to be limited to this definition alone. Ponder how you can give more of yourself to others through volunteerism, good deeds, and intentional acts of kindness.

Our next question – question number four. The category is: Prayer.

Question: On a scale of 1-10, how important is it that we pray during Lent?

Answer: 10! Honestly, it’s important that we pray regularly throughout the year. However, perhaps Lent is your chance to begin a new habit of prayer, or a new devotion, or to extend the time or ways in which you pray. Take time to sit still and be with the Lord.

Okay! That sound means it’s time for our Lenten Lightning Round! The category is: Potpourri.

Here’s the question: Name as many ideas you can think of for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lenten season. The clock is set at 45 seconds. And, go!

Answer: Make a Lenten paper chain and count down the days until Easter Sunday. Add a special Lenten prayer before or after meals, or during family prayer time. Go to Stations of the Cross. Attend a soup supper as a family and/or volunteer to help serve. Donate goods to St. Vincent de Paul. Invite someone to join you for Easter Mass. Forego a favorite leisure activity and engage in spiritual reading instead. Read Bible stories with your kids. Write about your Lenten journey in a prayer journal. Pray the rosary; extra points if your children join you. Commit to a regular holy hour with your spouse. Commit to a regular holy 10 minutes with your kids. Skip a treat and donate the money you would have spent to charity; let your children pick where the money will go. Dive into the Scriptures more deeply during these 40 days. Receive the sacrament of reconciliation before the Triduum. Turn off the TV. Turn off the radio. Turn off your phone. Wake up early. Go to bed early. Sit in the silence. Be with the Lord.

Okay! Time’s up! Wow – that’s an awesome list of ideas. But now, it looks like we’re all tied up, so let’s move to our Tiebreaker. The category is: Wham-o.

Question: True or false – If you’re overwhelmed and struggling to choose what to do for Lent, just pick one thing and do that.

And the answer is: True! As my friend, Sister Ann Shields says: “Pick one thing.” Just one thing. Not five things or 10 or a whole list – one. Ask God which one thing he wants you to work on to draw closer to him this Lenten season. He has his ways of letting us know. And then do that one thing earnestly and faithfully.  

Well, that’s all the time we have today, folks – thanks for joining us for this episode of Let’s Do Lent! See you next time.  

Renshaw is a wife, mother and author who lives in suburban Portland.