PLANNING AHEAD FOR LENT
Saint Luke 18:22
Brothers and Sisters,
This is something that I have put in the bulletin every year looking ahead to the holy, penitential season of Lent. We being now in Ordinary Time means that we need to hold ourselves to a high standard in practicing the Faith and living the morals of the Church. With Lent beginning later this month, it is also time to begin figuring our how each of us can be doing even better.
Certainly we know that the most famous element of Lent is that we are supposed to “give up” something and others try to counter that be saying that they will be “doing something more” rather that fasting from something as they roll through the weeks of Lent. Please turn away from these sentiments as well intentioned as they may be.
There are three things for all Catholics for all of Lent:
- Prayer: this is one of the “doing more” things as Lent. We have multiple additional options for prayer in our parishes during Lent, including Stations of the Cross. This is also something that we must be doing on our own as well. Perhaps a Rosary with the family, maybe getting up early and praying on your own, consider making a list of every transition in your day and checking off each opportunity of even short, simple prayer. A great way to start is making sure that every ride in car or bus is silent prayer for all of Lent – no music, no audiobook, no podcase, and – yes – no talking. I am sure that this will be a challenge for us all. We could do it together as a parish: when riding on any wheels, it’s all silent and all prayer.
- Fasting: this is the famous “giving up” something for Lent. Ironically, this is the one that is most often trivial for Christians. Lots of people will claim to give up something that they either don’t want anyway or will barely notice is gone. When I was young and first starting “giving up” stuff for Lent, I didn’t know what to do. Please, please look for something that will be really tough to not have for the forty days of Lent. Don’t aim to give up something nominal, trivial, or undesirable; rather be brave enough to pick not just one but many things that you enjoy having or doing. Then, when the desire for them comes, rather than giving in, we each can use that longing to turn back to more prayer and more almsgiving.
- Almsgiving: this is the other “doing more” things for Lent. Plan ahead now for giving more money to Church and charity; volunteer more for Church and charity – and don’t stop doing so just because Lent ends. Almsgiving could even be combined with fasting. For example: for Lent you could turn off your streaming subscriptions and donate the money that would have been used therein as a donation to the poor or the Church; what’s more, the less time streaming, the more time praying.
God be near,