Lent: Forty Days of Grace
It is Lent, time for the annual pilgrimage into ourselves and outward to others. It is Lent, time to listen to God and to search our souls. It is Lent, time to reflect, to pray, to change, and to act. It is Lent, time to recapture the meaning of our baptism and time when we prepare ourselves for the great annual renewal of our own baptism. It is Lent, a day by day grace that opens up God’s love for us and our love for others.
What do we seek to accomplish by the 40 day observance of Lent? Quite simply, it is to become the holy people God wants us to be. That is why we leave the church with ashes on our foreheads. It reminds us of the dignity and obligation that are ours because we are baptized. Are we being faithful to our own mission to live the gospel and to our own identity as a Christian?
With “dirt” on our faces we leave our church on Ash Wednesday in the company of our community members. For Lent is not just a private renewal but a public retreat observance of the whole Church. We begin by receiving ashes, a visible sign of the sin within. We end Lent in the waters of Baptism, washing off the ashes, making us clean again, a sign of the new holiness and new life of Christ within us.
Prayer – Fasting - Almsgiving
The great pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, almsgiving. All three are necessary. All three, practiced faithfully, will help us change our hearts. All three will help us appreciate the passion of Jesus Christ. All three will lead us forward to union with the Risen Lord of Easter.
Prayer: For many Lent is a time of going to Church a little more often: extra Masses, extra devotions, extra prayer, extra reflection on the Scriptures and the call of God’s Word, extra reflection on forgiveness and the celebration of the healing grace of Reconciliation.
Fasting: The fasting of Lent is not just the “giving up candy” of our childhood but a guide to change our attitudes and behaviors. To fast from such habits as selfishness and negativity is a needed change of heart. Or fasting could be not just doing without but also coming to understand the constant suffering of those who do not choose to fast but simply have no food, and then acting on this. That is a healthy Lenten choice, too.
Almsgiving: The prophets whose words will come at us and challenge and disturb us throughout Lent are all very clear: all the prayer in the world and all the fasting imaginable are worthless unless they turn our hearts towards our neighbors.
Within this parish Lenten guide you will find our parish’s schedule and activities to participate in for your Lenten journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
May our prayer be:
Lord God, give me strength to follow your Son into the desert these 40 days. Help me grow in your grace to become stronger in faith, hope and love and to come to Easter ready to renew my baptism. Amen.
Happy, Holy Lent!
The days of both Fast and Abstinence during Lent are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The other Fridays of Lent are days of Abstinence.
On a day of Fast only one full meal is permitted. Those between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast.
On a day of Abstinence no meat may be eaten. Those who have reached the age of 14 are obliged by the Law of Abstinence.
The obligation to observe the laws of Fast and Abstinence “substantially”, or as a whole, is a serious obligation.
The Fridays of the year, outside of Lent , are designated as days of penance, but each individual may substitute for the traditional abstinence from meat another practice of self-denial as penance. The time for fulfilling the Paschal Precept (Easter Duty) extends from the First Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2021 to the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, May 30, 2021.