My Dear Parish Family,
Welcome to Lent! You may have already started your Lenten practices, or perhaps you are still pondering what you should do this year in preparation for the great feast of Easter, the glorious high point of our entire Church Year. Last weekend a flyer entitled Lent, 40 Days to Encounter Jesus, Be Disciples was given out. It is still available in the church lobby and parish office and is an excellent resource which suggests many, many opportunities for a grace-filled Lent. Take one home, look it over with your family or friends, and mark your calendar with some of the events. Rethink your attitude toward Lent regarding Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting and follow some of the suggestions listed in the flyer or create some positive practices of your own.
Regarding Prayer, consider adding silence to your prayer life. Silence is something our modern culture struggles with but greatly needs. Try to find a place and time to sit silently in the holy presence of God for even a few minutes every day (with cell phone turned off!), perhaps in your car before work or school or in some quiet spot at home. St. Teresa of Calcutta often said, “In the silence of the heart God speaks.” Make a silent space for God to speak to you each day.
Regarding Almsgiving, our English word alms comes from a Greek word for mercy. The Gospels of St. Luke, which we hear proclaimed at Sunday Mass this year, are full of the message of God’s constant and unconditional mercy. Jesus commands us, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6: 36) During Lent, besides giving to the poor, we might challenge ourselves to go deeper and examine our attitudes and behavior towards those who trouble us most. Our “alms” to them could be the offering of compassion and tender care.
Regarding Fasting, we might focus on feasting during Lent as well. We can do this by choosing not to do some things (fasting) and then choosing to replace them with other things (feasting). For example, if we choose to fast from criticizing others, we can feast on giving compliments and praise.
Let this be our best Lent ever!