The word “Lent” is an old English word which means “springtime.” Since the early centuries, the Church has suggested three things that we undertake during Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Prayer– We have busy lives and there is much emphasis on enjoying life, but life without prayer is a life without the joy of the presence of God. If we do not pray, we are not Christians at full potential. We are like birds who are walking instead of flying. We will not have an intimate relationship with God our loving Father. We pray because all goodness comes from God and when we pray we come in contact with God. We pray to experience the joy of knowing and loving God our Father. We can make the effort to go to Mass an extra time or two during the week, or attend the Stations of the Cross at our local parish, or pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Prayer can be as short as 10 minutes a day—praying on a few verses of Scripture and trying to listen to what God wants us to savor from them. Whatever it is, it needs to make a difference—it needs to bring us closer to God.
Fasting — The Church commands two days of fasting, but encourages us to do more during Lent. From the spiritual point of view, fasting symbolizes our dependence on God. We don’t look at fasting as an end in itself— giving up something because it is hard, but fasting expresses the fact that we are trying to put God first in our life. Strictly speaking, fasting does concern food and is applicable for those from age 18-59, but our fasting from food is to be accompanied by a loving and forgiving attitude toward others —and that applies to everyone no matter what age. Fasting can also be applied to other areas of our lives. We can fast from noise by turning off our TV or radio. We can fast from checking our phones every two minutes; fast from Netflix, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We can fast from hitting the snooze button on our alarm clocks. Something that will bring us closer to God.
Almsgiving —For helping the poor, the Church makes it easy for us by giving us the opportunity to contribute to Catholic aid agencies by using the Rice Bowl. It can be giving money, it can also be giving of our time to spend time with others in need, forgiving someone who has hurt us in some way, thanking someone who has made a positive difference in our lives, praying for those whom we have hurt in some way, bringing a pot of soup to one of our Lenten soup suppers. Whatever we do for one of the least of these we do for Jesus.
May this Lent be a new springtime in our lives. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, may we like Jesus in the desert for forty days overcome temptation and thus be well prepared to celebrate Easter.