How have you prepared for Easter in the past? Like most of us, maybe you’ve given up chocolate, or tried to pray more. But during Lent, our Lord invites us to go deeper by increasing our fervor for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. “Lent” is a spiritual exercise for men that will immerse you in the Christian life and lead you through one of the most fruitful Lenten seasons you have ever experienced. Throughout these 40 days, allow the daily scriptures and reflections to be your guide as you begin your disciplined life of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity.
Who is it for?
This exercise is both for men who have never done any of the Exodus spiritual exercises before as well as for Exodus Men who are looking to enter into the season of Lent in a new and intentional way. If you didn’t do Exodus 90 this year, this exercise is for you.
As men, we are called to participate in a unique way in Christ’s headship. Are you the spiritual leader you need to be? Should your friends and family trust the decisions you make? Should they trust that you will lead them where the Lord is calling them to go, in good times and in bad? Without a life firmly rooted in prayer it is nearly impossible to know where God is leading you. Without a life of daily prayer, it is even harder to be confident that you know where the Lord is asking you to lead your friends and family at any given moment. It’s time to start praying.
During Lent you will build up a habit of daily prayer. You will commit to praying a holy hour each day. If you can’t do an entire holy hour on a given day, do as much as you can. With a minimum of twenty minutes of silent prayer both speaking to and actively listening to the Lord.
In addition, you will be provided a reading from scripture, pertinent to the season, each day. The scripture will be accompanied by a daily reflection. The reflection will help you comprehend the scripture for that day, understand where you are within the spiritual journey, and lead you into that day’s time of prayer with our Lord.
Stay faithful to daily prayer and you will grow in your ability to hear God speaking. This grace and ability will help you live out the spiritual headship our Lord is calling you to as a man.
- Make a daily holy hour.
- Read each day’s provided scripture and reflection.
Asceticism can be simply defined as acts of self-denial. All Christians are called to practice asceticism in some way, even outside of Lent. Beyond growing in freedom and self-mastery, during Lent you will practice asceticism in two ways, as penance and as offering. Ascetic disciplines help us practice penance for our own sinfulness through concrete outward actions. They also help us make tangible offerings for the good of others, more than praying fruitfully does alone.
The ascetic disciplines laid out in the Lent spiritual exercise help each man to detach from the things of the world. The disciplines cover most aspects of our daily lives to help prevent us from turning from one temporal dependency to another. Along with the disciplines for daily prayer, the ascetic disciplines help us turn from the things of this world to God—from that which will never truly satisfy, to the only one who does.
In accord with the disciplines for prayer and fraternity, the following are the ascetic disciplines during Lent:
(Note: Unlike Exodus 90, in this exercise you are permitted to take warm showers, drink alcohol, and—when you’re with others—watch sports. But don’t be fooled, this will still be a very challenging 40 days of preparation for living the Christian life, the rest of your life.)
- Abstain from desserts and sweets.
- Abstain from eating between meals.
- Abstain from soda or sweet drinks (white milk, black coffee, and black tea are permissible).
- Get a full night’s sleep (at least seven hours is recommended).
- Practice regular, intense exercise.
- Abstain from video games.
- Abstain from watching television, movies, or televised sports alone.
- Abstain from non-essential material purchases.
- Only listen to music that lifts the soul to God.
- Only use the computer for work, school, or essential tasks (e.g., paying bills).
- Only use mobile devices for essential communications; cut out non-essential texting, app, and internet use.
- Take Wednesdays and Fridays as days of fasting. (Abstain from meat and only eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.)
A man living out the ascetic disciplines above without living the disciplines for prayer and fraternity would be doing something, but he would not be doing the Lent spiritual exercise. The Lent spiritual exercise is equally an exercise in prayer as it is in asceticism, and in asceticism as it is in fraternity. Just as we need all three to live out the Christian life, so too we need all three to take up the Lent spiritual exercise.
This essential aspect of the Christian life is one of the most obvious and yet overlooked aspects of the Christian life today. When we challenge each other to do what is good and hold each other accountable to doing it, great fruits consistently come about. Great fruits, not just for us, but for our entire community. On the other hand, when we isolate ourselves and are held accountable to no one, our lives become a self-serving mess and our community suffers.
During Lent you will practice fraternity with 4-6 other men. This is not a warm and cuddly, “I’m ok, you’re ok, so we’re all ok” type of fraternity. This is an authentic, “the time is now,” knees on the marble, type of fraternity. A fraternity where men step out of their comfort zone and into the light. A fraternity where accountability brings forth authentic masculinity.
Where will you find men to make this journey with you? You are the protagonist. You will ask God where to find your brothers, and then you will go and intentionally ask them. In your church, your workplace, your club, your family, or your favorite bar, wherever the Lord is calling you to find your brothers, go there and make the invitation.
As a fraternity, you will meet every week for a fraternity meeting. These meetings usually take an hour but can be done in as little as thirty minutes with the “Weekly Meeting Guide.” In addition, you will pair up with one man in your fraternity. That man is your anchor and you are his. Every day you will check in with each other with a text, a call, or in person. Like an anchor in rock climbing and mountaineering, you should be a strong and reliable anchor for your brother. If he starts to fall, you need to be ready to hold his weight, lest you both hit the ground.
The Christian life is not easy. You need brothers and they need you.
- Attend Weekly Fraternity Meetings.
- Check-in with your Anchor daily.
The forty days of Lent are not a finish line, but a starting line. In these forty days, you’ll practice penance and further develop your ability to live the Christian life that Jesus Christ modeled for us, a life of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. In these forty days, you’ll make space for your formation to begin—from the man you once were to the man you truly desire to be.
But growing in confidence in your relationship with God, and becoming a man who lives for others, a man who is the spiritual leader of his family, and a man who can boldly proclaim the words of St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me,” takes ongoing practice, accountability, structure, and guidance beyond these 40 days. After Lent, there are more than twenty spiritual exercises that will be available for you and your fraternity to take up. The tools are at your fingertips. It’s time to become the man you know you want to be.
Take up the Lent spiritual exercise with your fraternity and these 40 days will be the beginning of the rest of your life.
Welcome to the Exodus Fraternity.