Lent is upon us once again. Like most people, I’m beginning this season with both hope and trepidation. In one way it’s a beautiful opportunity to let go of extra things that we pick up along our way; but the other side of me wants to hear nothing of fasting, extra mortifications, or giving up anything. Last night my sister and I sat on the couch eating jalapeño kettle chips and coffee ice cream as we bemoaned the next 40 days!
However, if we enter into this season with an open spirit, it can become a time of great growth in our lives. It is a time to focus more on our relationship with our Lord through prayer – like an extended retreat. How much do we appreciate it when our friends take time out of their perhaps busy lives to visit with us – often spending time with a friend rekindles or builds a latent friendship. Our Lord, too, loves it when we spend time with Him, and the benefits of our time spent with Him extend much farther than the actual time we give Him.
We can do penances that help both our soul and body – such as giving up ice cream. Or perhaps going for a walk everyday. Too-often we only think about giving things up, but maybe this year we could add something to our routine? Like a walk – yes, it is a pleasant activity, but we could use it as an opportunity to meditate on the walk that Jesus took to Calvary. At the same time, being mindful of the great blessing and benefit of being outside in the glories of nature and creation!
And let us not forget alms-giving. We often think about helping or serving those in great need in our communities or beyond. But do we ever think of those in our own family who are overlooked because they “have everything”? Maybe there is a close friend or family member who is struggling with something that needs us – whether it be a listening ear, or assistance with some task that they find daunting. Just as it’s easy to smile at the stranger on the street, but so hard to smile at your husband or sister after a long day, often it is easier to go to the soup-kitchen and ladle out soup to those in clear poverty than it is to offer to help a family member who needs a helping hand.
We’ve compiled a list of articles from our archives to help you in this Lenten journey. Whether it spurs you on to brainstorm new ideas of your own to implement this Lent, or gives you a new reflection on some aspect of Lent or fasting, or penance, I hope that these articles provide rich food for thought at this time!
Be sure to check back here often, as we will be updating this space with pertinent feast-days, and reflections from our staff on their own Lenten journeys. Share with your friends on facebook or e-mail who might appreciate the information!
Give Thanks for Lent! by Mike Sullivan
Christians are called to have an attitude of gratitude. CUF President Mike Sullivan outlines five ways that our Lenten journey can be guided by a spirit of thanksgiving.
In this Ash Wednesday homily, Msgr. Mangan presents some idea of what Christ desires for us during Lent, and how we can cooperate with Him to reap all the benefits from these 40 days. He doesn’t have this time of fasting and prayer to have us suffer for no reason; rather it’s a time for us to let go of extraneous things that prevent us from knowing Him more deeply, because ultimately that is what will make us truly happy.
Taken from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, this provides some ideas of where and how to focus our prayer, alms-giving, and fasting this Lent.
Here’s a Q&A that will answer some of your basic questions about Lent!
Relevant FAITH FACTS
Faith Facts are concise presentations of Church teachings and disciplines in areas of faith, morals, and liturgy.
Lent: Discipline and History
Where does the observance of Lent come from?
Daily Penance, Days of Penance
What are they, and how do Catholics observe them?
Is There A “Rite” Time?
Whether to baptize during Lent
Lenten Traditions Within the Home
Lenten Family Activities
Life in the “Fast” Lane
Fasting and Abstinence
The Washing of Feet of Holy Thursday
Whether only men should be selected