What is the purpose of Lent?
Is it when Catholics have to give up candy and dessert and eat fish on Fridays? Is it when the Church wants more of our money or we are expected to donate more to charity? It can be, but it also should be more. Could Lent be the time for us to “Go Green”?
“Christian green” is my term for caring for the gift of creation by healthy and sustainable living through a Christian worldview in solidarity with all of God’s children around the world. Many people consider themselves environmentalists, conservationists, or “crunchy” moms but is often through a completely secular lens.
Christian green, in my opinion, is less about saving the Earth as it is more about responsible caring for creation and improving our lives and the lives of others through healthy, sustainable living, and environmental stewardship.
Related Article: Do Christians Have to Be Green & Eco-friendly?
So what does it mean to have a Christian Green Lent?
Lent is about giving up and giving more, but down deep, when we think about WHY we do these things, we can see that it’s about freeing ourselves from earthly things and growing closer in our relationship with God through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (caring for others).
Christian green and simplicity in life are exactly that. Living simply, avoiding consumerism, and caring for creation can help us grow closer to God — Lent IS the perfect time to go green!
If you are looking for more about why we as Christians need to be green and eco-conscious, check out my post titled, “Do Christians Have to be Green?” or my Laudato Si’study series on caring for our common home. Until then, here are ten ways, you can strive to live a green and faithful Lent:
10 Green Ways to Live a Faithful Lent
1. Prayer: Reuse a devotional you already own or trade one with a friend
When you do this, you avoid the consumption of new materials and all the waste that goes along with it, but it also might stir prayerful conversation and strengthen your friendship.
2. Prayer: Subscribe to a faithful email, online, and/or video devotional
This is a great way to avoid the consumption of paper products altogether and help you to engage your other senses at the same time. Often when you can read it, watch it, and/or listen to it, you are able to connect with the lesson and reflect on it, in a new or deeper way.
3. Prayer: Read and study Laudato Si’
Lent is a great time to read Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. It can help you to see green living in a new way and help us to align our eco-friendly goals with our Christian worldview. Read it, pray with it and consider how you can make a difference in the care for creation and our relationships with each other. (If you’re interested in studying it with me, you can start my Laudato Si’ study series HERE.)
4. Prayer: Pray for (and even better with) someone in need
This may not seem directly green, but if you understand that caring for our world and our environment includes our relationships with each other and nature, it’s easy to see that praying with someone in need can strengthen both our society and the world for the better.
5. Fasting: Avoid buying unnecessary consumer items during Lent
Avoiding unneeded purchases is a form of fasting and a wonderful way to help us to change our consumption habits when it’s done intentionally. It can keep us from “shopping just to shop” and help us to focus time on more meaningful things like spending time with our family instead of spending money on our family.
6. Fasting: Cancel your newspaper or magazine subscriptions
Newspapers and magazines are a dirty business that we have convinced ourselves is necessary to keep in touch with the world when it really just pollutes it. Even recycling newspapers and magazines are dirty and can easily be avoided with online subscriptions if you really can’t give them up completely.
7. Fasting & Almsgiving: In addition to abstaining from meat on Fridays, fast on bread and water only
Or, if that’s too much, you can try fasting from meat an additional day of the week. Most of us in the United States and other developed countries are blessed enough to be able to afford meat every day. Fasting from it helps us to remember that many people around the world aren’t as blessed and we can gift the money we save to help provide meals for others.
8. Almsgiving: Simplify & donate additional items to charity with the intention of not replacing them
Lent coincides with spring and a time of natural renewal. It’s a great opportunity to simplify our homes and family environment and give it someone who may not have as much as we do. By not replacing the items (think toys, clothes, shoes, purses, etc.), we can start our journey to a simpler life.
9. Almsgiving: Give your time
Almsgiving doesn’t always have to include giving money or “things.” Your time is valuable too and your work is always appreciated. Volunteer at the food bank, help build a Habitat for Humanity home, spend time helping at the nursing home or your church. All these things don’t require more “things” and can be a very green and charitable way to grow in relationship during Lent.
10. Almsgiving: Donate a bit more to a new charity
After you’ve already made your lenten charitable commitments, donate a little bit more. Take the little bit of extra money that you question in your mind if you should or if you shouldn’t give and give it to a new charity. Consider one that you have thought about donating to in the past and haven’t or maybe one that takes a bit of research to find. In a nutshell, give it to the charity that challenges you both in commitment and effort. It may be the exact one that God is calling you in solidarity to help his forgotten children.
Most people don’t think about Lenten practices as something that needs to be “greened,” but living Christian green with intention during Lent makes perfect sense and fits naturally into our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I hope these 10 green ways can help you on your journey to a lifetime of a simpler, greener you.
My prayers for your Greenest Lent Ever!
If you are looking for more about why we as Christians need to be green and eco-conscious, check out my post titled, “Do Christians Have to be Green?” or my Laudato Si’study series on caring for our common home.
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