Lent: A Time for Renewal
Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of yet another Lent. On Ash Wednesday, ashes were imposed on our forehead with the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel.”
Repent from all that prevents you from living your life entirely in and for Christ.
Believe in the good news of the gospel that God has redeemed you in his Son Jesus Christ.
Lent has a double purpose. On the one hand, it has always been a period for those who are about to enter the community of the church to prepare for their baptism into Christ. On the other hand, it is a time for
all the faithful to prepare themselves to celebrate the great Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil—the most important days in the life of the Church. For it is during the Triduum that we enter into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. With Christ we die to the power of sin over our lives. With Christ we rise to newness of life in the Spirit. The purpose of Lent, then, is to prepare us for Easter so that when Easter arrives we will live our life in Christ more intensely and devoutly than we do today.
There are three ways to observe Lent: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.
Almsgiving encourages us to share our material resources with those less fortunate than ourselves.
Prayer joins us ever more closely to Christ so that he lives in us and we live in him.
Fasting strengthens and disciplines us so that we can live the life of discipleship.
Without almsgiving, prayer and fasting are ineffective.
Without prayer, almsgiving and fasting are shallow.
Without fasting, we do not have the power to persevere in almsgiving and prayer.
So how can we observe Lent this year
as a parish?
What can we do
as a parish?
Here are some suggestions:
Second, let us deepen our prayer life. We can do this in several ways: (a) Renew our devotion to morning and evening prayer; (b) Pray the Rosary; (c) Attend Daily Mass at least once a week; (d) Participate in the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:00 PM. (e) Recite the Seven Penitential Psalm, one each day of the week:
Monday, Psalm 6;
Tuesday Psalm 32;
Wednesday, Psalm 38;
Thursday, Psalm 51;
Friday, Psalm 102;
Saturday, Psalm 130;
Sunday, Psalm 143.
Third, abstain from meat on all the Fridays of Lent and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting means eating only one main meal each day. The two other meals combined should not be greater than the main meal. It also requires that we do not eat between meals. If your health allows, fast on other days as well.
Fourth, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance during Lent. How marvelous it would be if each member of our parish,
without exception, confessed his/her sins during Lent. If we do this as a parish, we shall be ready for Lent. During Lent, confessions are heard each Monday, from 6 - 7 pm in every church of the Archdiocese.
Fifth, deepen your understanding of your Catholic faith by attending the Bible Study Deacon Art conducts on Tuesday evenings or the Adult Enrichment talks I give on the Thursdays of Lent on
Living and Praying the Psalms.
Make this Lent different. Make this Lent better. Draw nearer and closer to Christ, and Christ will draw nearer and closer to you.