In mid-January, I met a friend at a very nice restaurant. We had actually planned to meet in December, but an unexpected illness prevented us from doing so. So, I asked her at the beginning of our encounter, “Shall we toast to the New Year?”. She replies, “I hope you don’t mind, Susi, but this year I’ve opted for Dry January. It suits me very well. And I’ve also inspired two friends who are going to participate”.

– How nice! It doesn’t bother me at all because I abstain from alcohol during the week.

In a Schoenstatt meeting we reflect on the “signs of the times”, we observe: What moves people today? A participant says: “I have been participating in Exodus 90 for three years. It is really liberating to embark on this challenge and step out of my comfort zone”. The 90-day program promises deeper peace and true intimacy with God, as well as an asceticism in community.

– Great! I think again.

Find meaning in your Lenten season

Obviously, these programs strike a chord with people who want to engage in challenges and focus on themselves in these fast-paced times.

Christians have special times in the liturgical year – Advent and Lent – to refocus on God. Conscious renunciation can help, especially if it has a “what for.” Doing without something can be a silent gift to that person or, perhaps even more valuable, it can make it possible for us to consciously turn toward that person.

For example, less time in the media creates the space needed to call someone and start a conversation.

Giving up alcohol or sugar once a year for a longer period cleanses the body from within – if this renunciation is not just ascetic, but “for such a cause,” the joy of this challenge increases. Confession has become very valuable for me in recent years – it is like a warm shower of the soul that washes away the things that did not go so well and also where the good God accepts things that are still unanswered – it cleanses the soul from within and opens up space to re-trace the inner yearnings.

Father Kentenich’s advice

In this Lent we can ask ourselves: Where is God inviting me to re-open the door to him this year? It is worthwhile pausing for a moment and ask ourselves this question.

Father Kentenich gives us good advice: to compare ourselves only with ourselves in order to find a “better me”: Where do I want to grow, and what can I do specifically as an exercise toward this goal in the coming weeks? If I find something that gives me joy – even if it is difficult – I can say to myself and to God: I accept the challenge!