Did you know that on Wednesday we began one of the holiest seasons of the liturgical year? Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, where traditionally the palms from last year are burned and used to mark the us with the sign of the cross. This sign reminds us of our reliance on God and the fact that we even though God loves us, we are sinners in need of repentance of forgiveness. Lent, which lasts for forty days, is a season of reflection, with three main parts. For Lent, we can focus on these parts to help us engage with God on the forty-day journey.
The first part of Lent is fasting, which reminds us of our dependence upon God and the great sacrifice He made for our benefit. While we traditionally think this means giving up a favorite food, we can also do things like fasting on self-focus and feasting on community building;
The second part is praying which allows us to grow closer to God by strengthening our relationship with him. During Lent we can try do this both individually and as a community. Praying allows us to reflect and examine where we have fallen short of becoming the person God created. This can be done as an individual conversation with God but can be more special when done as a group or with your family. Insight from others can also assist us to be repentant for the ways we have sinned and created distance between us and God. Prayer allows us to slow down and see where He is working in and around us, like saying a prayer of thanks to God every night for three things, or people every evening;
The third part of Lent involves giving. This reminds us that we are called to share what we have with others. This can be in the form of sharing gifts, time or talent, especially for the poor and marginalized. Consider volunteering for one of our parish service projects or participating in Operation Rice Bowl.
The ultimate goal of Lent is to grow closer to God in preparation for Easter. Try praying for others or giving something up that allows you to remember Jesus’ great sacrifice for us. Try to be more prayerful. Reflect on the readings at Mass, attend Stations of the Cross, go to confession and open your heart more fully to God’s forgiveness. Remember, this time of reflection, sacrifice, and repentance ultimately leads to the joy of Easter.