Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Lent: 40 days of conversion.

March 6, 2014
Prayers, fasting and words of love.

Prayers, fasting and words of love.

The holy season of lent is upon us again. Lent is that wonderful in the church were the faithful are called to metanoia (a turnaround). We have all been celebrating lent over the years through acts of fasting and charity but many have lost the sense of conversion that the season calls us to. Lent is not just a season of fasting and alms giving but a call to spiritual stock taking based on our baptismal vows. At every mass we proclaim the credo which contains all the elements of the faith we have chosen to practice but how faithful have we been to those vows?

Ash Wednesday opens the door to a journey that allows no rest until we celebrate the passion and resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ at Easter. This journey is meant to open our eyes to the reality that life does not end on earth. Lent symbolizes our mortality as well as our need for ongoing repentance and conversion. Lent is not just about self righteous fasting and abstinence but as the catechism outs it “these are times for particularly appropriate spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies and pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial and fraternal sharing”. Penance is an act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing. As it relates to the season of lent it means we should go beyond giving up food and drink but more importantly avoiding sin patterns, habitual sins, socially deviant behavior. We should remove the mentality that Lent is about a temporary or seasonal giving up. It is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ. The goal should not be just to abstain from sin for the duration of lent but to root out for our lives forever.

Lenten Observances

Fasting/abstinence, prayer and alms are the traditional cardinal pillars of lent.

Fasting/abstinence: fasting is a means of developing self-control and deepening a hunger for God. But Prophet Isaiah points out that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God (see Is 58;6-7). Fasting should be linked to our concern for those who are forced to fast by their poverty, those who suffer from injustices of our economic and political structures.

Abstinence from meat is also an act that links us to the poor and deprived of the society who can seldom afford meat. The goal of abstinence is training in simplicity. Avoiding meat, while eating some very expensive fish or seafood, misses the whole point.

Almsgiving: This shows our concern and commitment to those in need and an expression of gratitude to God. Almsgiving includes work of charity and the promotion of justice in the society.

Prayer: this is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God. Prayer goes beyond just saying beautiful words but it means having a humble and contrite disposition towards God who knows all and acts freely. The catechism posits that “prayer cannot be reduced to a spontaneous out pouring of emotions”. Humility is the foundation of prayer, only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. Archbishop Fulton sheen puts it well when he states that Prayer begins with man but ends with God.

Obligations of lent

By provisions of canon law every Catholic who has attained the age of 14 years is bound to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of lent. By fasting the church means only one full meal can be taken on such days, two smaller meals may be taken but when combined must not be up to a full meal. Water may be taken.

Suggested Lenten practices

Adults

  1. Attendance of daily masses
  2. Frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation
  3. Self-imposed mortification and abstinence e.g abstaining from luxurious foods, alcohol, tobacco etc.
  4. Frequent visitation to the Blessed Sacrament.
  5. Fast from music and unnecessary recreation
  6. Daily meditations on scripture for at least 10 minutes
  7. Regular attendance at stations OF THE CROSSS
  8. Study the catechism of the Catholic Church
  9. Join a pious society in church
  10. Visit hospitals and orphanages with your children
  11. Resolve to stop abusing other drivers and motorcyclists on the road
  12. Make up your mind to say a kind word to everyone you meet
  13. Forgive and resolve a long standing feud
  14. Lent is also a good time to give up disordered sexual activities and passions like fornication, adultery, masturbation, viewing pornography and dirty talk.

For teens and children

  1. Do house chores without complaining
  2. Cut down on movies and TV time
  3. Restrict phone time
  4. Volunteer to help a neighbor in need
  5. Join the mass servers or another group for young people
  6. Choose a favorite toy, book, game or cloth and put it away until easter.

Have a blessed lent.

Namse Udosen

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