Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pillars of Lent

The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross. - St. Anthony of the Desert

 If, you'd rather, Catholic Icing has a really catchy song... 

The Lent Song (to the tune of "Frere Jacques")
Prayer, Fasting, and Alms Giving,
We are meant, to repent,
40 Days of sacrifice,
Being super, extra nice,
This is Lent, This is Lent
Whatever way you choose, the basics are the same. Lent is about prayer, fasting and alms giving.

1. Prayer

Add a rosary, Divine Mercy chaplet, St. Michael the Archangel prayer, Guardian Angel prayer, Adoration etc., as many days as you remember. Make it part of your daily routine. Make it for someone else. Today our Pastor's homily was about praying for others who have hurt us or who cause us grief. Someone sprung to my mind immediately; someone who was in my life and left without notice or reason. I will pray for her and hope that whatever her life situation now, she will find peace. 

With prayer, seek repentance. Do this in your daily life...apologize when you are wrong; give people the benefit of the doubt; don't spend time thinking about why someone does something. Love. While you are loving others, love yourself enough to seek out the sacrament of reconciliation. We went while we were away and it was an amazing gift of grace to hear our usual struggles reflected in a different way. However you choose to, just do it. Regular confession gives us the grace we need to continue our journey.

2. Fasting

Fasting, of course, means limiting food. There is a wonderful new component of 40 days for life in which one may fast over a 24 hour period, in addition to prayer, to eliminate the scourge of abortion from our land. I join in this several times during the 40-day period and it is a gift. Knowing that my sacrifice is related directly to aiding a cause so dear to me as the pro-life movement.

Fasting can also take on other forms. We can fast from gossip, from anger, from despair, from judgment, from sloth...whatever separates us from God.
In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. [Pope Benedict XVI]. 

3. Alms Giving

From Catholic Online: Alms giving "is a sign of our care for those in need and an expression of our gratitude for all that God has given to us. Works of charity and the promotion of justice are integral elements of the Christian way of life we began when we were baptized."  

We have a wonderful neighbor who always remembers the kids on holidays with a card and a small bit of money. After receiving their Valentine cards, the older ones decided to put it in the offertory basket at Mass this morning (of course the little ones followed suit). It is good that we have the opportunity to take a gift given to us and share it with others. 

We also went to our first 40 Days vigil slot this week (we are trying to attend every Sunday). It was cold (although not as cold as it has been) and the kids weren't thrilled to be there. Still, we went and we saw some of our good friends and we prayed for those who need our prayer. DH did a wonderful job on the way home of reminding us why we stand in the snow and cold to pray for and witness to the cause for life. It is so important that alms giving, whenever possible, goes beyond just putting a check in a basket (which, of course, is also important). The physical act of doing something difficult reinforces it on a deeper level. I never want to go to the vigil but I am always blessed when I do.

Being grateful for what we are given and using it to help others is one of the greatest gifts of Lent. It allows us in some small way to repay the greatest gifts we have been given...our life and our salvation. 

Happy First Sunday of Lent!

We are blessed. 

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