Agere Contra for Lent

mazeAndy Otto suggests agere contra as one approach to Lenten practices. He writes at God in All Things:

Agere Contra—This popular Ignatian term means “to act against.” It means that we can deliberately choose to go against what our tendency might be. It’s useful in avoiding temptation or bad habits but can also stretch us spiritually. So if you realise that Facebook is a bit of an addiction for you, you can practise agere contra and give it up for Lent. Maybe you choose to “go against” picking up that gossip mag. Or you find yourself lazy and about to turn on the TV; instead you “go against” and call a friend you need to catch up with. It will certainly stretch you, give you greater attention to your habits and tendencies, and allow you to focus on other things like spiritual reading or quiet time for prayer (or your family).

How might choosing to go against a tendency be a helpful way for you to think about your Lenten practices?

If you’re still deciding on a Lenten practice, check out our 10 Ideas for Lent.


  1. Goodness. Thank you, Mr. Otto. God wink for me today. It’s been on my mind these past weeks to give up FB for Lent. You’ve sealed the deal for me. Must be my sis (she passed away a year ago) working through you. She lived in Boston, (another God wink), Arlington on spy pond. Wow! What a morning!

  2. Thank you, my time is limited ; due to age etc etc. and there is so much i really NEED to get done ;that I am still capable of doing. Giving up a couple of programmes on the T.V. and using the internet less, would free up lots of time. I have so many books for Lent, I thought I might have to give up LENT! Just joking! God Bless. A.M.D.G.

  3. I’m a 12 month lover of this site. Why make a specific issue with Facebook ? All my close family (8) are overseas. It is our only real contact.
    Somewhat confused as to the Ignatious direction here ?

    • Hi Paul, I think the author was just using Facebook as an example. Certainly in your case where you use it to keep in touch with family, it would not apply. But I think there are plenty of people out there, myself included, who spend lots of time on Facebook or other internet sites and don’t gain anything valuable from it; time that could be much better spent in different Christian endeavors. God bless you.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply Diane. I was a little put out and disappointed to feel that the enjoyment I have been getting from Ignatian Spirituality should have received such a personal set back.
        God bless you too.

  4. Love this short but thought-provoking article. A great example of the down-to-earth practical nature of Ignatian Spirituality. The fruit of choosing Agere Contra reminds me of Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean. All about getting the balance right!


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