The season of Lent is right around the corner and if you’re secretly dreading the beginning of this penitential time of the year, a new book full of “holy hacks” for life might be just what you need to make this Lent as efficacious as it is joyful!
Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven is a delightful new book by National Catholic Register columnist and author, Patti Maguire Armstrong. It adapts the popular “life hacks” strategies from social media and applies them to the pursuit of holiness. The combination is as fun as it is inspiring!
“The idea of holy hacks came to me after spending time visiting my ninety-two-year-old widower dad,” Armstrong writes in the Introduction. “Everyone who knows him calls him a saint, especially his six children. Yet he never makes a show of holiness.”
Instead, he’s usually the quietest person in the room who never pushes religion on anyone and yet never backs down on issues of faith.
“It is this witness of quiet perseverance that has earned my dad a reputation of holiness. My siblings and I witnessed a good father grow in his faith through the integration of holy habits. . . His little quiet changes, making sacrifices, slipping a fast into the week in ways that didn’t attract attention, and watching Catholic videos in between the Detroit Tigers and old classic movies are some of what inspired me to assemble a collection of holy hack ideas into a book.”
These clever little hacks are a great way to grow in holiness and are particularly well-suited for people who live busy lives that can make it difficult to focus on the spiritual.
“Holiness has a bad reputation. People fear it is a miserable and torturous life,” Armstrong explains. “Dying to self doesn’t have to be an abrupt slaughter. Instead, it can be a minute-by-minute offering of ourselves to God.”
For example, as we approach Lent and are looking for ways to do penance and repair for our sins, consider adding a few of these Lenten hacks into your daily life:
“Make a Lenten commitment to pray as you go through your day for anyone who irritates or troubles you.”
“Abstain from something at each meal. It could be mustard on your sandwich, the main course, French fries, salad dressing . . . just something that is a sacrifice.”
Here’s one for those who might benefit from paying a little less attention to their appearance:
“Fast from vanity. Don’t wear makeup, or go without one item. Consider not wearing jewelry during Lent. Intentionally wear clothing items you don’t particularly like to reduce your attachment to appearance. Then get on about your day and forget about how you look; focus more on others, in this way reflecting your real beauty.”
There are even holy hacks for fulfilling the Lenten practice of giving alms.
“Fund-raise online by sharing appeals for worthy causes.”
“Go through your closets and house. Pick out something you love, and give it away to charity. Find an item a week. The greater its value, the greater your gift to God.”
If you’re struggling to overcome a tendency to gossip, this hack might do the trick:
“If gossiping is a recurring problem, write on an index card, ‘What you say about others is a reflection of who you are’; then tape it to your mirror.”
If pride is your stumbling block, these simple hacks can be very effective:
“Practice patience. Impatience results from thinking we are too important to wait.”
“Strive to be confident, not prideful. Know that God gave us all the gifts we need to accomplish our mission on earth. We are complete! Believe it, but don’t take credit for it.”
There are a variety of hacks in this book that aren’t just for Lent, but can be incorporated any time of year with the same good effect.
For example, “Smile and be pleasant. If you are ignored or rebuffed by someone, don’t’ get upset; just continue to be kind and say a prayer for them.”
“If you don’t like someone because they really are a mean and nasty person, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for their conversion. They might become more likable!”
There are hacks for everything from holy relationships and prayer to evangelizing and for spiritual protection, as well as for other holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
“The hacks in this book are suggestions to expand your life, steps for when you feel you’ve lost your footing, and ideas for when you feel you are not doing anything to live your faith – or at last not enough,” Armstrong writes.
“The saints achieved holiness not in a single day but rather moment by moment, breath by breath, prayer by prayer, and hack by hack. And so, too, can we.”
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