What to say to friend who "doesn't do Lent"?

Granted, my friend is not Catholic, but since we carpool, there is a lot of time for conversation. I started talking about what my family was thinking of doing for Lent and my friend stated simply, “I don’t do Lent”. I didn’t know how to respond. I know protestants don’t necessarily follow the Liturgical Cycle, but still I think this person would benefit, like we all do, from the voluntary sacrifice of something. I just don’t know how to talk about it… maybe I shouldn’t.

Anyone else know someone who just “doesn’t do Lent” ?:confused:

To be honest me ,I came back to the church after a long absene and have tried to get back into the swing of being and I have found it to be hard .I was not raised in a devout home except for early childhood then both my religious education and church attendance fell. I have been trying to get into it by buying books of others’ experience and so far no luck.What am I doing wrong ?

I would just open up a casual conversation about it… something like, “Do you know much about Lent or why it’s celebrated?”… then share some basic information.

Here’s some links that may help:

I probably wouldn’t raise the issue with someone who said she doesn’t do Lent, but if it came up again in conversation I would probably talk about it from my personal point of view with lots of “I” statements. “When I have a good Lent I feel so much better prepared for Easter” or “I appreciate all the extra opportunities my parish has for prayer during Lent.” Plant the seed that it’s a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth.

It seems that many Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic look forward to Great Lent.

Some of the most beautiful services of the Church are reserved for this season, such as the Presanctified Liturgy.

When you go through a strict Lent and as full a Holy Week liturgical schedule as possible, Pascha is so much more joyful.

Your friend is cheating only himself.

First, advise the person that Lent is not a verb… :slight_smile:

Next, I assume the person knows what Lent is and why it is observed. Perhaps the reason for not observing is a misunderstanding of what Lent is.

Finally, as with many things start small if a drastic change seems impossible. If one consumes three cups of coffee in the morning, consume two instead. If one has children and does not spend one hour a day in actively engaging them in play or conversation, find the time no matter what other distractions there may be. Having completed Lent perhaps one will attempt a little more the following year.

I just finished talking to my girlfriend about Lent and i ironically came to this page :slight_smile: Anyways, my girlfriend is non-denominational protestant and also doesn’t understand the concept of Lent… I haven’t gotten into much details with her, but all i’ve planned on doing is what has already been mentioned: Explain it, bring up scripture about fasting and the significance of suffering for the Kingdom of Heaven, and of course speak about how it positively affects my own relationship with God and the people around me. I guess the only way we will get our point across is planting that seed within them and watering it with our prayers. Anyways, if anyone else wants to throw out a few tips, that would be great! :thumbsup:

Ask your friend (assuming they are Christian) if they do anything at all to prepare for Easter, and if not, does that mean that Easter is just like any other day? (hopefully they know what Easter is about).:wink:

Good suggestion. If only I had the right words to help them see the joy of being Catholic… if only I could convince them that they really can receive Jesus in the Eucharist, if only…

I was raised Protestant and never observed Lent. About all I knew about it was that some people chose something to give up for a while before Easter, although my family and friends never did. Your friend might just not know what Lent is about, or might think it’s a “Catholic thing” that Protestants don’t need to do.

I’d recommend telling your friend how observing Lent benefits you, and why you do it other than “because the Church says so.”

A year or two ago, it occurred to me that it seemed like I wasn’t treating Easter with its due significance, and that Lent would probably help prepare me for Easter better. Still, I didn’t do anything about it because I didn’t know anyone who observed Lent, and I didn’t know how to start doing it. Now, for a variety of reasons, I’ve decided to become Catholic so this will be the first Lent I’ve had an opportunity to observe. I’m looking forward to it but I’m not sure what to expect. Maybe your friend will benefit just by seeing how you prepare for and celebrate Easter this season.

My response to someone who said they don’t do Lent would be, What a shame. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to grow in your faith and to be united to Christ.

As for how to approach Lent for those new (or re-new) to it - remember the goal should be to grow in our relationship with God. So consider what in your life is a barrier to that. Do you spend time watching mindless television (and shows that promote non-Christian behaviors)? Give up some television time and spend it reading the Bible instead. Do you spend money on vices? Give up the vice and use the money you would have spent for a charity. Do you overeat or indulge in restaurant meals? Cut something out and donate that money to a charity. If you do a good assessment of your spiritual life, you can find the perfect sacrifice to draw you closer to God this Lent.

Lent is truly a special time of the year in our faith. It gives us a chance to give something up in order to make more room for Christ in our lives. The problem with lent is we tend to focus too much on what we’re giving up rather than what we are receiving in return.

As far as describing the Blessed Sacrament to your friend in words that can adequately show the meaning is impossible. It’s the special intimacy we share through the Eucharist that makes it a truly amazing sacrament. To think we can actually sit there and talk to Jesus face to face just about blows my mind.



Christians who belong to non-liturgical denominations really don’t understand Lent. They have no context for it at all. That being said, I don’t think the way to explain it is as a self-help project. Don’t harp on your friend ‘doing’ Lent, but use your discussion time to talk about things like grace and God’s love for us, free will and our need to cooperate with that grace. That is much more important than whether he stops drinking coffee for 7 weeks, :stuck_out_tongue:

My opinion is that this is where you start.

We Catholics are sacramental people. We don’t just say, “Great! Jesus was born, died, and rose to save us. Now we can get on with our lives while throwing in some prayer and fellowship for good measure.” We believe that we actually share in Christ’s life, death and resurrection. We do this primarily through the sacraments. The sacraments are kind of like doors into eternity. (And much much more, of course.) But another way we share in Christ’s life is through observing the liturgical year.

For Lent, specifically, we enter into Christ’s passion so that we may better experience the meaning of his resurrection and entrance into glory. Lent reminds us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before he began his public ministry. We practice prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. Fasting and giving things up have several purposes. They discipline us, unite us with the sufferings of Jesus, they work as reparation for sins, they help us identify with the poor. But perhaps, most importantly, they create space in our lives for more important things.

If your friend is Protestant and it is not part of her faith tradition to observe Lent the way Catholics do, I don’t think you should press the matter.

I know I HATE it when Protestants (especially Born-Again) try to tell me what I’m doing “wrong” as a Catholic. I have had run-ins with people and although I have plenty of information and am able to explain why I do what I do as a Catholic, I really resent it when I am put in a position of having to defend myself against someone who is zealous in his/her mission to “convert” me.

I don’t “do” Lent. Not that I am forbidden to do so, nor do I think it’s in an of itself a bad thing. I just see so many going through a period of self-sacrifice with no idea why they are really doing it. It basically breaks down like this for me.

No self-sacrifice but meaningful reflection on the season and awareness is greater than self-sacrifice without any real consideration of why one is doing so.

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