Lent Is Early This Year!
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021. There is a plethora of resources available, but sometimes simple is best. The Church recommends three things: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Perhaps simply add one thing in each category.
It can be as simple as setting aside and scheduling 15 minutes of quiet prayer time. Read some scripture, and talk to God about it, and then do not forget to be quiet and listen. Check with your parish and see what opportunities for prayer are available: whether online or in-person. Perhaps attend a daily Mass, or Adoration, Stations of the Cross, or pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
This is not about losing weight or getting physically fit. It is about a spiritual discipline and hungering for God. You can fast from a particular food, drink or from other pleasures. Perhaps give up screen time or put away mobile phone or limit social media. Perhaps fast from online shopping for thing you want but can do without. What is distracting you from God: Fast from that.
Give so it hurts a little. Or give what you would have spent on things you are now fasting from. There are a lot of great charities and groups that could use a little assistance:starting with your parish, or Catholic school, the Diocese through the Bishop's Fund and the Bishop's Good Samaritan Fund (or any specific ministry that is close to your heart). Then there are organizations like Catholic Charities, St. Joseph Nursing Home, Catholic Relief Services, the Pontifical Mission Society, as well as local food pantries and resource centers. Giving money is good, but remember to also give from yourself: your time and talents. Perhaps you can simply brighten a lonely neighbor’s day by a phone call or a physically distanced social call.
Bishop Barron’s 2021 Gospel Reflections: Daily reflections on the Gospel are available online or in a beautiful book which includes the Stations of the Cross as well. The book also comes with space for journaling.
Your parish may be giving away book for spiritual reading. If not, consider this book:
Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know: If you ever wondered what it means to be saved, and why Jesus became man, suffered, died and was resurrected, this is an excellent book. Also see my earlier review HERE.
Fasting (and Almsgiving):
CRS Rice Bowl: CRS has a wonderful site with recipes from around the world for meatless Fridays and other days of the week. These are simple and inexpensive recipes that allow you to experience solidarity with the poor from around the world and use the money you save to donate to the rice bowl.
Perhaps consider learning more about the Spirituality of Fasting: for example:
Give to the poor, (again, check out the CRS Rice Bowl above), give a little extra to your parish or to the Bishop’s fund, give to your neighbors in need. The USCCB has other suggestions.
Whatever you plan to do for Lent this year, do it to grow closer to Christ, and to love God and neighbor more and better.
Have a Blessed Lent.