Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s hard to believe, but Lent is already upon us. On Wednesday we begin that sacred season which, for many of us, can seem like just a 40 day diet or a test of will power. But if we truly enter this time with the right spirit, Lent can be one of the most beautiful and most enriching seasons. Rather than let it catch us by surprise then, we should think hard in these coming days of how we can take advantage of this time of grace.
Traditionally, we speak of three practices taken up during Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The fasting or “giving something up” part usually gets the most attention, and it’s popular now to say: “instead of giving something up, why not do something good?” but all three are meant to be observed because they complement each other. They are meant to build on each other – as fasting and sacrificing things we enjoy should give us more time for prayer and more resources to share with those in need.
So the first question we should ask is – what can we cut out of our lives? Sure giving up chocolate is great, but is that really all we can do? We don’t think about it, but there are so many luxuries in our lives we take for granted. There are so many things that are not sinful, but nevertheless fill our lives in a way that leaves less room for God and others. How then can we simplify our lives? Maybe we do give up some food we enjoy to remember we love God more. Maybe we listen to less music so we have more time for silence and prayer. Maybe we cut back on TV or internet or social media or cell phone time. We look to what we en- joy most, what fills our lives that isn’t completely necessary, and we try to break those attachments.
Hopefully then we can use that newfound freedom on good things. Maybe we pray a rosary every day or get to daily Mass or just pray quietly a few extra minutes at night or during our commute. Maybe we spend some time watching FORMED – learning more about our faith. Maybe we give a few more bucks to a charity, or give a few more minutes to our family, especially those who would appreciate our time the most. Maybe we look at a virtue that we struggle with and we focus each day on growing in it – whether it be patience or purity or honesty or thoughtfulness.
In all of these things, we have the opportunity to look at our lives and remember that we’re not saints yet. We are reminded that we have work to do, and in this season we commit ourselves to taking the first steps towards becoming better. Of course confession is an important tool for this, so this is also a great season to build up that habit of confession. We’ll be offering confessions after every daily Mass to hopefully make it as easy as possible for everyone to have that chance and maybe even go multiple times during Lent.
A final possible practice that we will be offering here in the parish is our Lenten Series. Each week we will be hosting a different event which should provide an opportunity for spiritual growth. From a visit by a local author, David Bonagura, to a night with our Deacons, to an exposition of thousands of relics, there should be something for everybody. I encourage you to please see the schedule in this week’s bulletin. Also follow our Website-Facebook-Instagram-Youtube pages for updates. If we just make a few good commit- ments for these coming weeks, when Easter comes we’ll be filled with the joy of having known we’ve made a little progress in uniting ourselves more closely with Christ.
Yours in Christ,