Dear Sacred Heart Family,
We know that Lent is our season of penance when we fast, pray, and give alms to get ready for Easter. It might be helpful to look at how & why we do this as we start this season.
In a word, Lent is about conversion—to take some time to look at our lives and see how authentically we are living our Christian promises to love God and others. To simply say that none of us is perfect and we can always be better is true, but if we do not take a specific time to look at how to become more authentic followers of Jesus, we will never begin the process to grow closer to Him.
Lent is a bitter-sweet time. It is bitter as facing our faults and failings naturally brings up sadness and disappointment we aren’t as good as we should be. Yet, it is also sweet in as much as we do grow closer to God who gave His life for us.
For many people, it is hard to know where to start, perhaps that is why we focus on the 3 simple actions of fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Still, it can be challenging if you don’t know where to start and so I would like to share some suggestions that have been helpful to me in years past.
Fasting, which we do on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, is where we eat only 3 meals, and the large meal is no more than the two smaller meals combined. To make your Lent more meaningful you can fast more than just these two days, perhaps once a week or more. The point of fasting is to love God with our whole body. The pangs of hunger can move us to care for those without food or be a reminder for us to pray more. Another way to fast is to fast (stop doing) the harmful things we do. Fasting from criticism or gossip, using the internet/social media too much, or giving up a special treat can be a great way to make fasting more meaningful.
We all know we should pray more but what does more prayer look like? It can be coming to Mass on the weekday, joining us for adoration or rosary, or starting a family rosary. It can be making sure to prayer 3 times a day or reading a book to learn a new form of prayer. We are offering weekly Scripture study and retreats as more ways to add prayer to your Lent.
Finally, almsgiving is that chance to put aside money for the poor. Hopefully, you will join our parish’ outreach to the Rice Bowl project, but you can also set aside money for our homeless shelter or help us get hams for Easter baskets for the poor.
In each of these actions our conversion is to love God more by loving Him in prayer, self-denial, and service to others and just like life, we will get out of this Lent as much as we put into it.
May your Lent be fruitful.
With a heart for Mission,