Lenten faster: Service, sacrifice and blogging
March 21, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 20, 2014 at 10:21 p.m.
Andrew Maul isn't the biggest fan of social media. He isn't often found on Facebook or Twitter.
But this year for Lent, he wanted to do more for God before Easter Sunday than simply giving up sweets, soda or bread.
Maul, 23, wanted to go back to Christian basics, focusing his Lenten season on prayer, service and spiritual preparation.
To achieve this goal, he launched an online blog, "Lent 2014: A spiritual journey through Lent filled with fun and opportunities to serve Christ and his people," chronicling his Catholic faith journey with pictures, assignments and reflections on any lessons learned.
Each day, he pulls a number out of a hat, his late grandfather's hat, and the number is assigned to a task. Maul carries out the task assigned to the number, and then writes about his experience online.
Maul is this week's featured Advocate Lenten faster.
• Name: Andrew Maul
• City: Houston, by way of Victoria
• Age: 23
• Occupation: Process engineer for oilfield company
• Religion: Catholic
• Fast: Service and prayer
You've given yourself a service and spiritual goal every day for Lent. Have you always taken Lent this seriously?
Yes, my whole life I've always observed Lent. And since high school, I've always given up sweets, which is challenging for me. But more recently, I wanted to focus not only on sacrifice but also on service, like almsgiving and prayer.
Why not just put your plan up on Facebook?
I'm not an outgoing person by nature, and I'm not a social media person. I'm not going to put this on Facebook or Twitter, but I thought I could handle a blog.
Why did you choose blogging about service and spiritual growth as your Lent sacrifice?
I wanted to focus on service elements. There are so many things the Catholic church calls us to do, and we don't always do them. I always feel like I have such terrible ADD that I come up with ideas (to serve) and then I never do any of them. I thought if I could put all my ideas in a hat, literally, then I could pull out one at a time and focus on one of them at a time.
What are some of your assignments that you pull out of the hat?
Almsgiving, give drink to the those who are thirsty, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick, pray for the living and the dead.
So what kinds of things have you accomplished?
Some of the tasks are completed in real time, and others are more about preparation. One of my assignments is to admonish a sinner, but it's not like I'm going to go out looking for sinners. So I'll spend that day educating myself, reading the Catechism, so the next time I find myself with a sinner, I'll be prepared to talk to them.
A lot of these are about learning to live a life of complicity, taking a cold shower to remind myself that some people don't have hot or running water. Or going into my closet and finding a few shirts I don't need anymore to give away. Or preparing blessing packages with crackers, soap and other items to put in my car, so the time I see someone who may need one, I'll be ready to grab it and give it to them.
How has this blog stretched your faith?
I think it's given me a tangible way to serve in a way that I've always wanted to but never make time to do. It shows me that there are so many practical ways to be Catholic that we don't always think about it. And it doesn't take Lent for us to do carry out what Christ calls us to do.
What will happen to the blog at the end of Lent?
I haven't decided yet. I haven't thought that far ahead. It's been a fun tool so far to share practical Christianity, and maybe I'll continue something of that nature.