Greetings All! It is a surprise to many of us to think that Lent is already starting on Wednesday! If you are anything like me, it usually takes me a few days into the lenten season before I actually know what I am doing for lent. We will see how it goes this year… I can keep you posted :)
Some people might say that we Catholics have a lot of rules. Compared to some I am sure this is true. In any case, it is important to remember that any rule or guideline we have is intended to help us more authentically be human beings - to help us know who we are before God and neighbor. This is especially important for us to recognize when we apply this to our lenten practices. So often our identity really is caught up in an over-focus on activity and consumption, that it takes abstaining from some of these things to help us know who we are again, and to be able to rest in God’s love. Lent is much more about being than doing. But as embodied spirits, it takes doing something to help us BE.
Lent certainly is a time when we look at what we tend to put in the place of God in our hearts (food, drink, entertainment, etc), and we seek to abstain from those things in some way. For myself, sometimes when food is in the area I think I am focusing much more on food than on the people I am with. On these days I go to bed with a full stomach, but I ask if my heart could be filled a little more.
Just a little note on almsgiving: Of the lenten practices, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, I would say the last one, giving to the poor and charitable organizations is by far the most penitential. It is important for us to realize the importance of almsgiving in our relationship with others, and thus with our relationship with God. We don’t always emphasize it this way because this one is the most likely to become corrupt. (ex. Most of us would prefer to be on the receiving end of someone’s almsgiving for us than on the receiving end of them fasting for us). Hopefully our hearts being open to the poor takes effect by our wallets also being open to them.
We ask the Holy Spirit to help us simply BE before God and before others and we pray that we can DO what it takes. Have a blessed Lent!