One of the best advices I’ve ever heard came from a psychologist on dealing with depression. His advice to those suffering from depression, or any of its deepest relatives, is to turn your attention away from yourself.
Giving of yourself to someone else in need feels really good. It takes your mind off your own cares, and focusses on those of someone else. This is the same advice given by the Church during Lent. Focus on others. Stop sinning (which harms others, regardless of what we think), discipline yourself, and give to others. And while you’re at it, while you’re doing all these forms of penance, don’t show others that you’re doing penance. Do it in secret, so nobody else would know.
Regarding discipline, there’s all sorts of ways we do discipline ourselves. We involve our children in hockey or some sport and when they turn out to be really good at it, we force ourselves and them to wake up at 4 in the morning and get to practice before school. We demand that our kids study and do homework, we demand of ourselves that we work out, do all those self improvement things. So, if we can do all that for ourselves, why is it so hard to do it for the Creator of the Universe??? So let us discipline ourselves to focus more on the plight of others. Give as well as you can to the poor, feed the hungry, house the homeless, all to the best of our abilities.
For my Lent, I’m rationing my snacking. I could snack all day, so this is a big one for me. I have one snack a day, as opposed to several, and also rationing my food intake and increasing my working out. I’m also resolved to do spiritual reading every day, and to pray the Office of Readings and the Evening Prayer from the Divine Office each day. As a pilgrimage, we’re having a two day retreat with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ.