By Alyssa Bormes
I don’t think anyone has every accused me of being an ascetic. The closest I can come to the life of self-denial is perhaps… well – I can’t think of anything. So Lent is not my easiest season; I much prefer excess. A few times over the years, just in order to get through it, I’ve cheated, and not just for a part of Lent – but for the whole thing. And – I’m going to try to convince you to cheat as well!
Before you begin Lent you need a few things: note cards, stamps, a name, and an address. Then, let the cheating begin!
Oh – you need to decide on your sacrifices and added prayers, and all the regular stuff. Plus, pick someone for whom you would like to dedicate your Lent. Then on Ash Wednesday evening, get your first note card and write to that person. Tell her what you did that day, maybe a little something about what you learned at Mass, how you did on your sacrifices – especially fasting for Ash Wednesday, if you were tempted or not, and how you overcame the temptation by offering it for her. Then, address the envelope, stamp it, and throw it in the mailbox on the way to work on Thursday.
On Thursday evening do the same thing, and again on Friday, and Saturday, and everyday, Sundays included. It seems like Easter, or Easter Monday is a reasonable day to stop.
I have done this over the years – for my brother, for a nephew, and for a few other people. I’ve told them about Mass, about Adoration, about Stations, about overcoming temptations on their behalf, and even about things like interesting conversations at the Friday Fish Fry.
The letters were always a bit formulaic. I’ll give you an example of the type of note I sent to my brother each day.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Then I might mention something that stuck with me from Mass, and perhaps how later in the day I resisted having a coke by offering the small sacrifice for him.
Then the letter finished with: May this Lent be my love letter to you.
I suppose the first note was nice – but then they kept coming. He did tell me that there were days when multiple notes came at once, but he couldn’t open them all, instead he savored them over days. I was humbled.
“Wait a minute! I’ve read this far into the article and you haven’t mentioned how to get out of Lent.”
Oh – don’t think I don’t hear you – it’s just that maybe you didn’t hear me. I didn’t say I would get you out of the sacrifices and extra prayers and such. I said I would teach you to cheat, and offering your whole Lent for one other person is exactly the way to do it.
Now, you have a few days. Who will receive your Lenten offerings? Who will receive your letters? Get the stamps and stationery, and get going on Wednesday.
A Lent full of letters makes the season one of gratitude. It makes prayer, fasting, and almsgiving a joy. It showers the receiver with daily reminders of love, and a shower of love is just the sort of extravagance that makes all the little moments of asceticism possible.
About the author:
Alyssa Bormes is an educator, author, speaker, and retreat leader. She currently teaches at the Chesterton Academy in Edina, Minnesota, writes for the Catholic Spirit, and the W.I.N.E blog, is the host of a weekly show,“Christian Witnesses in the Church,” on Radio Maria US, and is the author of The Catechism of Hockey. You can find her at alyssabormes.com.
Oh my goodness, I love it!
Now I know why I was moved to buy 3 sets of beautiful notecards at the WINE conference this past Saturday!
Fantastic – and Linda – thank you for being a friend to my friend at the conference!
I love your wit !!! Your humor is amazing ,thank you for sharing it at the WINE conference yesterday
Thank you for your kind words – and for coming to the conference – it was a great day!
Thank you for this amazing and humbling exercise in “cheating” in lent. Yesterday at the WINE conference picked up so many thought provoking note cards to use for this great journey. Thank you for your words of wisdom, your delightful humor and the light of the Lord that shined through you Saturday at the WINE conference. God’ Blessing
Thank you Lindalee – what a joy the conference was! For the other women commenting on this article – who did you get your cards from at the conference?
Thank you, Alyssa. What a beautiful way to have the best Lent ever!
Thank you! I hope you do it – and tell a friend to do it as well – just think of how many people could receive a season of love!
This is beautiful. Last year I sent cards to different people as I prayed for them each week at Adoration.
Last night I was talking with my dear daughter who is having challenges with two of her children. This would be a perfect way for me to be with her while we are 2000 miles apart. I would have chosen my dear granddaughter, but she would not be reachable by me at this point in time.
Thank you for your kind words! I’ll keep your daughter and granddaughter in prayer today. There is just something about notes coming via snail mail for a season that brings comfort!
Thank you for this! For those of you who attended the WINE conference , could you please share information on the vendor selling the note cards?
Thank you Theresa. One of the funny things about being the emcee is that I didn’t get a chance to go to the vendors myself! So – I’ve sent a text to two of the other core team members – and also asked one of the other ladies who responded here is she could give the information – hopefully we track down the vendor!
Alright – I think I found the vendors – there were two –
http://www.salutarestationery.com and http://www.brightlyhude.com
This is a great way to cheat Kent . Thank you for sharing this. I’ve already decided on who I’ll send notes to. And yes please send information about the note cards from the conference.
Oh – I’m so happy that you will be joining me in cheating Lent!
Here are the two vendors –
http://www.salutarestationery.com and http://www.brightlyhude.com
This is FANTASTIC! What a wonderful idea for Lent… I am ALL IN!!! Thanks, Alyssa!
Wahoo! Thank you for sharing this with me today!
The card vendor is Salutare Stationary (salutarestationary.com). Wonderful selection – I have purchased several packs over the last few years.
Lisa – you are the best! Thank you!
Love it! Use coupon code Wine to get 25% off entire order at http://www.salutarestationery.com
Thank you to all of you that purchased cards at the conference – being with WINE ladies is such a lift!
Oh – thank you Jolene! What a wonderful gift you have given the ladies!
Wonderful! I instantly thought of my God Daughter/niece who will be Confirmed in May.
That’s a great idea! Thank you for sharing it!
Love this! I put a link to your blog from mine! God bless you! pax, melissa overmyer