(CNS file photo)

(CNS file photo)

Editor’s note: As the Christmas season was concluding, the staff at the Superior Catholic Herald started discussing Lent — a season that, no matter when it begins, often sneaks up on Catholics and catches them spiritually unprepared. To help you prepare in advance of Ash Wednesday, March 5, we’ve compiled a list — in no particular order — of 40 actions to consider taking during this penitential season. We invite you to peruse the list, discuss it with family members, post it in a prominent place, and to each day focus on the fasting, praying or almsgiving that will assist you in your journey to Easter. May you have a blessed Lent.

1. Attend Ash Wednesday Mass and wear your ashes all day — at school, work or in a social setting.

2. If you don’t have a crucifix in your home, purchase one and display it prominently.

3. Attend Stations of the Cross.

4. Get a book of daily reflections and read it every day.

5. Get some friends together and attend a parish fish fry. You will participate in a fun Catholic tradition and have time to catch up with friends.

6. Perform a random act of kindness each day.

7. Take time to journal or blog daily.

8. Attend your parish’s Lenten mission. Not having one? Volunteer to help plan one for next Lent.

9. Drive to and from work in silence every day. That’s right — no phone, no radio.

10. Give up gossip — spreading it or receiving it. If you don’t engage in gossip, give up another unhealthy habit.

11. Volunteer for a ministry in your parish, e.g., lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, cantor, choir member, usher, greeter, home visitor.

12. Offer to be a confirmation sponsor.

13. Pick a saint, any saint, and study his or her life.

14. Make a retreat. Can’t commit to a day or weekend? Try the daily three-minute retreat at http://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer.htm, or begin the online 34-week retreat for everyday life at http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/cmo-retreat.html.

15. Give up social media — no Facebook, no Twitter. No kidding.

16. Put away the electronics — Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Ouya, etc. Start with a day or two, and build up to a week by Easter.

17. Organize and coordinate making and/or collecting items for the local nursing home, or making hats and blankets for premies or blankies for stillborns.

18. Create a layette filled with items, e.g., onsies, sleepers, bottles, soaps, diapers, wipes, lotions, etc., that would be needed by a first-time mother who is experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. Include a letter of encouragement, thanking her for choosing life. Keep the mother and her child in your prayers.

19. Donate your time, talent and/or money to a St. Vincent de Paul conference. If your parish doesn’t have one, contact Michael Syslo at to learn how you can start one.

20. Pray the rosary with your family.

21. Participate in a Bible study.

22. Whatever you purchase for yourself, e.g., food, clothing, linens, household items, etc., purchase for a homeless shelter, too.

23. Invite your neighbors over for dinner.

24. Stand up for your beliefs.

25. Reach out to a long-lost friend.

26. Bookmark a Catholic website and visit it regularly.

27. Read a book about or written by Pope Francis.

28. Volunteer at a school, hospital or food pantry.

29. Donate your end-of-year bonus.

30. Like St. Francis of Assisi, proclaim the Gospel; use words, if necessary.

31. Support the work of and/or join the Knights of Columbus or the Council of Catholic Women.

32. Find wisdom in the Book of Proverbs.

33. Start each day with the Morning Offering: http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/morningofferingprayers.html

34. Receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

35. Visit a relative in a nursing home.

36. Start a novena.

37. Pray daily for someone you don’t like or who doesn’t like you.

38. Forgive someone who has wronged you and/or forgive yourself for something you have or have not done.

39. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “How was I Christ present to someone today?”

40. Memorize a Scripture verse that is particularly meaningful to you.

If you would like more ideas on how to make this the most spiritually enriched Lent ever, please visit