Skip to comments.The Three Practices of Lent: Praying, Fasting. Almsgiving
Posted on 02/09/2005 9:00:29 AM PST by Salvation
click here to read article
Ideas for Fasting
Give up one TV show today and spend that time helping a family member.
Give up one TV show or the radio or music for 30 minutes and read the story of the Woman at the Well in chapter 4 of the Gospel of John, verses 5-30.
Give up one TV show or the radio or music for 30 minutes and read the story of the Blind Man in chapter 9 of the Gospel of John, verses 1, 6-11, 35-38.
Give up one TV show or the radio or music for 30 minutes and read the story of Lazarus in chapter 11 of the Gospel of John, verses 1-7, 17-44.
Give up one TV show or the radio or music for 30 minutes and read the story of the Good Shepherd in chapter 10 of the Gospel of John, verses 1-18.
Give up something that you enjoy today (like dessert or snacks) and spend a few minutes praying for the needs of others.
Give up something that you enjoy today (like dessert or snacks) and donate 25¢ to your Operation Rice Bowl box.
Give up buying something new (clothes, CD, magazine, jewelry) and donate 50¢ to your Operation Rice Bowl box.
Give up buying something new (clothes, CD, magazine, jewelry) and donate 50¢ to your Operation Rice Bowl box.
Give up going to a movie or other fun activity and donate the money from this activity to your Operation Rice Bowl box or other people in need in your community.
Think about a bad habit that you would like to change, like telling a lie, yelling at others, getting angry, or putting people down, and choose to avoid that habit and do something positive instead.
Think about someone you are angry with or who has hurt you. Ask God for the courage to forgive and pray for that person each day. Think about one thing that is good about them.
Share lots of smiles today.
Give a hug to everyone in your family.
Compliment each person in your family some time today.
Give up complaining, frowns, and negative thoughts today.
Read the story of Palm Sunday, Jesus entry into Jerusalem, in the Gospels of Matthew 21:1-11 or Mark 11:1-10 or Luke 19:28-40.
Read the story of the Last Supper of Jesus in chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, verses 1-15.
Read the story of Easter chapter 20 of the Gospel of John, verses 1-9.
Pray the Our Father three times todayin the morning when you get up, at noontime, and when you go to bed.
Say a prayer for someone who is sick today.
Pray for a forgiving heart and ask the people you have hurt to forgive you.
Participate in Ash Wednesday services with your family.
Participate in the Stations of the Cross during Lent.
Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.
Rent the video, The Prince of Egypt. Watch the video and read the story of Moses from the Book of Exodus, chapters 2-15. Try to read one chapter each day. Be sure to read the story of the Passover in chapters 12 through 13:22.
List three blessings you have been given. Say a prayer to God, giving thanks for the blessings in your life.
Pray for the children and families who are homeless, and think about ways you and your family might help them.
Show an act of kindness to each family member today.
Show an act of kindness to a friend and to someone who is difficult to like.
Together with your family, spend time serving others during Lent. Work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Visit elderly people who are in nursing homes or are shut-ins.
Bring food or clothing to the parish or community food pantry, food bank, or homeless shelter.
Do someone elses chores one day this week.
Donate a new item of childrens clothing to the local homeless shelter or clothing center.
Go through your closet and find some clothes in good shape to give away to other children who are in need of clothes.
Write a letter or create a card for someone who is sick or might be lonely.
Buy a can of food to give to a food bank or homeless shelter.
Talk with your family about eating one simple meal each week of Lent and putting the money you save in the Operation Rice Bowl box or giving the money to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
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Is abstaining from meat consumption no longer a Friday requirement? My parents used to abstain every Friday of the year, pre-Vatican II. I didn't see it in your list and am just curious. Thanks in advance, Salvation!
Prayers offered up for the health of the Pope, who celebrated Ash Wednesday in the hospital with his doctors.
With the old rules it is best to stay, Vatican ll, took that rule away."To give up your meat,just one Friday a week", is in honor of Jesus, would died on that day. Graces abound! Eat Fish on Fridays or other meatless items.
|The Holy Season of Lent
|Fast and Abstinence.
It is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance, without which the Christian is unlikely to remain on the narrow path and be saved (Jer. 18:11, 25:5; Ez. 18:30, 33:11-15; Joel 2:12; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 4:17; Acts 2:38). Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). The general law of penance, therefore, is part of the law of God for man.
The Church for her part has specified certain forms of penance, both to ensure that the Catholic will do something, as required by divine law, while making it easy for Catholics to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics [Eastern Rite Catholics have their own penitential practices as specified by the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches].
The Church, therefore, has two forms of official penitential practices - three if the Eucharistic fast of one hour before Communion is included.
Abstinence The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.
On the Fridays outside of Lent the U.S. bishops conference obtained the permission of the Holy See for Catholics in the US to substitute a penitential, or even a charitable, practice of their own choosing. They must do some penitential/charitable practice on these Fridays. For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere.
Fasting The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance.
Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.
One final consideration. Before all else we are obliged to perform the duties of our state in life. Any deprivation that would seriously hinder us in carrying out our work, as students, employees or parents would be contrary to the will of God.
---- Colin B. Donovan, STL
Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are days of Fast and Abstinence as referenced by the Canon Law post above.
Most Catholics still voluntarily observe the Fast and Abstinence on ALL Fridays of the year.
God bless you! What a FANTASTIC LIST!
Thank you. It came from another source -- just getting the word out!
Some families put together a purple or lavender paper chain with Forty Lenten Links (in the style of Christmas decoration paper chains).
Write one of these practices of Fasting, Praying, Almsgiving/Serving on each link.
They then hang it next to their breakfast table and take off one link for that day. Then the family members do that one thing without any fanfare during the day.
And when the Forty Lenten Links are gone -- We all know that Easter and Jesus in the Resurrection has arrived.
Only a few more hours till the fish fries start! (One of the blessed bennies of Lent!)
Wow! That sure hasn't been my experience. I've often had lunch on Fridays with Catholics who attend mass and they never seem concerned about abstinence. It's the kind of thing I'd notice since I practice it myself.
I thought about that after I posted it.
Let's change it to
Perhaps you should let them know the 'good news'.
Most Catholics think that Vatican II did away with the requirement of not eating meat on any Friday of the year. Most think it is now just Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent that we cannot eat meat.
This is what the new Code of Canon Law brought out in 1983 says about the matter:
Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Canon Law still requires that Catholics not eat meat on Fridays!
Of course, most Episcopal Conferences have determined that, instead of abstaining from meat, Catholics may perform an act of penance of their choosing. But, do you ever remember to abstain from a particular food or do some other penance on Fridays? And, at any rate, the main rule is still to abstain from meat on Fridays, the performance of another penance instead is an optional alternative.
It's very interesting to note that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the United States' Episcopal Conference) is currently debating whether to rescind the determination and require all Catholics to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. The Bishops are considering that a return to meatless Fridays for all Catholics would be of benefit.
Here's wishing peace and blessings to all who read this thread.
They are probably wearing a hairshirt and don't want to make a fuss in keeping with today's Gospel. (Oh man, I'd better do penance for that smart aleck remark!)
Or they pray for their persecutors.
Friday penitential practices are always an interesting discussion topic for any group of Catholics.
Thanks for that re-post.
"With the old rules it is best to stay, Vatican ll, took that rule away."To give up your meat,just one Friday a week", is in honor of Jesus, would died on that day. Graces abound! Eat Fish on Fridays or other meatless items."
I liked the rhyme in the first sentence!
I wonder what vegans abstain from on Friday....
"Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are days of Fast and Abstinence as referenced by the Canon Law post above.
Most Catholics still voluntarily observe the Fast and Abstinence on ALL Fridays of the year."
As usual, you don't disappoint when it comes to providing information, Salvation. Thanks!
**I wonder what vegans abstain from on Friday....**
Well, of course I assume that they are!
I never ask about it because I'm Anglican and I rightly don't get a vote. *eyes personal lunch of pea soup and rye bread* LOL!
May the Lord richly bless you.
Just a great site.
Please ask your Catholic friends as many 'questions' as you can think of. Just for information, of course. We Catholics, especially English speakers and, most of all, Americans, need all the help we can get in remembering what the heck our Church actually teaches.
The following six categories are the principal works of Lent. Within the broad concept of each it is possible for each member of the family to find the means adapted to his age and strength and learning.
1. Fasting or Mortification:
O holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God, who by fasting of the body dost curb our vices, dost lift up our minds, dost give us strength and reward. (Traditional Preface for Lent)The example of fasting comes from our Lord Himself; and at almost every Mass during Lent the Church (in the Latin forms of her official texts) prays that we may have the strength to continue our fasts. The minimums of fasting and abstaining are set by diocesan regulation in norms possible for practically all adults to fulfill. In addition, one might abstain from a favorite food or drink or dessert. The children, insofar as they are not bound by fasting laws, should be encouraged to give up some item of food and to accept voluntarily modifications in the family meals.
Fasting should be done with a spirit of cheerfulness! To fast is to give up something good for the sake of a greater good, and the words of Christ were meant for our Lenten meals:
Again, when you fast, do not show it by gloomy looks, as the hypocrites do. They make their faces unsightly, so that men can see they are fasting; believe me, they have their reward already. But do thou, at thy times of fasting, anoint thy head and wash thy face, so that thy fast may not be known to men, but to thy Father who dwells in secret; and then thy Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6:16-18).It is surely in the spirit of this admonition of Christ that the Lenten meals should be attractive. Fasting does not mean preparing unappetizing meals, but the foregoing of good things. Whatever is served can be attractive.
Mercifully hear our prayer, O Lord, we beseech Thee: and to those whom Thou givest a desire to pray, do Thou grant also the help of Thy protection. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)Insofar as possible the family members participate daily in the Mass that is the unique prayer. But those who cannot attend need not be cut off from the mind of the Church as she develops the Lenten theme. The Proper for the Mass of the day, or at least the Gospel or Reading, can be read aloud by one member of the family while the rest listen. An ideal time to do this is at the beginning of the family meal. It is the one time when all the members are most likely to be together, and the few minutes of silence are an appropriate offering. The older children should be encouraged to take their turn in reading.
A short meditation is possible for many of us if we determine to make it. Two books are especially useful for the laity: No Song More Glorious by Father Anton Sorg, O.Carm., shows us how to pray and worship God by giving us a whole series of Biblical models who excelled in the practice of prayer. And Father Cassian A. Miles, O.F.M., provides us with Ready-To-Read Weekday Scripture Guides, a book that has helped many to understand better the Readings at Mass on each weekday; references to the Bible passages used at Mass are given so that you may read the pertinent Gospel and Reading from your home Bible.
Probably the most common family devotion during Lent is the Rosary, and the efficacy of praying the sorrowful mysteries in common is self-evident. The Stations of the Cross can also be said at home before a crucifix (especially indulgenced for that purpose by the Church) by any family members who cannot get to church that day, the required prayers are the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be . . . for each station, five for the wounds of our Lord and one for the intention of the Pope.
Psalm 90 is the special Lenten psalm, and it makes an appropriate night prayer. It sets the keynote for the battle we are to wage against the world, pride, the devil, and the flesh, but although there is a battle, the forces of God are not afraid because they are divinely protected. The psalms are wonderfully well devised for family recitation. One half of the family can pray one verse, the other half the next. Children, who have no difficulty mastering a new "hit song" every week, can quickly memorize psalms. They love the sense of participation that comes from dividing into "choirs" and reading alternate verses.
THE LENTEN PSALM
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,3. Almsgiving:
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust."
For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler,
from the destroying pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
and under his wings you shall take refuge;
his faithfulness is a buckler and a shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right side,
near you it shall not come.
Rather with your eyes shall you behold
and see the requital of the wicked,
Because you have the Lord for your refuge;
you have made the Most High your stronghold.
No evil shall befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your tent.
For to his angels he has given command about you
that they guard you in all your ways.
Upon their hands they shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and glorify him;
with length of days I will gratify him
and will show him my salvation.
Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harborless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. (Is. 58:7-8: Reading on Friday after Ash Wednesday.)Almsgiving and fasting are the most ancient works of Lent, and they are closely linked. For what we save by fasting, we are able to give in alms. (For if we refrain from smoking, drinking, expensive foods and entertainment during Lent, and then use the money saved to buy other goods which satisfy us, our sacrifice is not very great.)
Every member of the family should be helped to give alms, even if the amount is very small. Almsgiving has two important effects Those of us living in a materialistic culture are especially tempted by the vice of avarice, a selfish love of goods and comforts; and so it is helpful to our spiritual purification to make a direct frontal attack on selfishness by parting with goods. The other reason is that almsgiving is one of the best ways of showing love of neighbor. The corporal works of mercy cannot be carried out unless we give sufficient alms.
Americans are traditionally generous in contributions, and the American who is a Catholic can be expected to do even better. Lent is the proper time to increase both the number and size of our gifts.
The whole family can enter into the spirit of saving for alms. A glass jar is placed at the center of the table on Ash Wednesday, and all the money each family member saves as a result of self-denial from smoking, eating candy, going to movies or similar activities is put into it. The mother, buying simpler and cheaper foods for Lenten meals, puts the difference into the jar at meal time so all can see where the cost of the dessert went! The children spend the first weeks of Lent investigating needy causes and charitable organizations and missions. They will have the responsibility of determining who gets the alms-fund.
Lent and the beginning of spring house cleaning usually coincide. Our closets often reflect selfishness, or at least thoughtlessness. As we clean we collect all the surplus clothes and goods which can better be used by the poor of the parish, the needy neighbor, or the stranger around the corner.
In giving money or goods, especially to those we know personally, we must be careful to recall the words of Christ:
Thus, when thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in streets, to win the esteem of men. Believe me, they have their reward already. But when thou givest alms, thou shalt not so much as let thy left hand know what thy right hand is doing, so secret is thy almsgiving to be; and then thy Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward thee (Matt. 6:2-5).4. Good Works:
Grant to Thy people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, health of soul and body; that cleaving to good works, they may deserve ever to be defended by the strength of Thy protection. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)The term "good works" can be expanded to include a great variety of actions, but in particular it refers to two kinds: those that are perfections of our daily duties and those that are perfections of charity toward others. Lent is the time for intensification in both areas.
The husband at his job, the wife at her housework, and both of them in the work of parents resolve to be better. Perhaps it means being more patient, or more thorough, or more optimistic and hopeful, or more cheerful to associates, or planning and completing tasks better. The children resolve to obey more promptly, to be more efficient in cleaning or keeping their clothes in order, or to be more cooperative with one another, or to arrange new schedules to reduce quarreling and make for more efficiency. Kindliness of all toward neighbors or fellow workers or students is a perfection of charity. So is cheerfulness. So is refraining from backbiting, gossiping, criticism.
To make the good works of Lent more specific, the mother writes down a series of chores to be done and virtues which should be observed. Each member of the family, parents included, draws a slip after evening prayers and the specific chore is his special good work for the next day; or if they have chosen a virtue, they work particularly hard on practicing that virtue the next day.
Another method of stimulating good works, especially when the children are young, is to give them a seed to put into a jar for each special good work they do during the day (beans or corn can be used). The seed symbolizes us and our good works; but unless it is planted (dies and is buried as was Christ), it cannot grow into a new plant (the new life of the soul made possible by Christ's resurrection).
Enlighten our minds, we beseech Thee, O Lord, with the light of Thy brightness: that we may be able to see what we ought to do, and have strength to do what is right. (Prayer from the Lenten Liturgy.)In the earliest days of the Church, those who sought Baptism had to undergo a long period of study and learning, and the pre-Easter season was the special time of intellectual preparation. But as Father Pius Parsch reminds us: "Spiritual enlightenment . . . is not restricted to candidates for baptism. . . . For us too, Lent must be a catechumenate, that Christ may again enlighten us" (op. cit., p. 57-58).
For many of us the thought of spiritual reading as a work of Lent seems strange and far "easier" than to quit smoking! But perhaps we can strike a formula. During Lent we will spend the same amount of time in spiritual reading that we ordinarily take in reading the comics or sports or society pages of the daily paper. Or maybe we can settle for a straight ten minutes a day. But whatever time we set aside should be spent only on the very best of books books which have scholarship and truly "enlighten" us. For small children, the Bible stories of the Old and New Testaments are retold in Children's Bible by Father W. Hillman, O.F.M., and in Stories to Teach Religious Truths by Sister M. Ora Cardinal, O.S.F. These two books for children are beautifully and copiously illustrated. Of course, the richest store of daily reading is the Scripture itself, and it is even more fruitful when the readings are related to the daily liturgy; a new daily missal is indeed most helpful.
Reading aloud to the children is a source of learning for both children and parents. The choice can be made from any of the many excellent children's books about saints and Bible stories. Such group reading creates a warm natural atmosphere for asking questions, exchanging confidences, and speaking familiarly about God, Christ, His Church, and the saints.
Graciously hear us, O Almighty and merciful God; and favorably grant to us the gifts of wholesome self-denial. (Prayer from the Lenten liturgy.)Our culture is filled with a variety of innocent pleasures and activities, all good in themselves. Giving up some of these legitimate pleasures is a very strong tradition in our American Catholic observance of Lent, and it has much to commend it. The list of possible things to forego is endless. The virtue comes in each family member picking one of his favorite items. And while one likes to test his will-power to see if he can really persevere in abstention of this good thing, our deepest intention should be more noble: it is a process of purification; it is a way of associating ourselves with the spirit of penance shown by Christ in His forty days; it is a chance for reparation for offenses against the whole Mystical Body of Christ. Throughout all the Mass prayers of Lent, it is evident that we are not to pray for ourselves alone, nor to sacrifice for our own benefit alone, but for the whole Church.
Father Parsch warns us that we "have become such individualists that we are ashamed to hold religious observances in common" and he asks that the "communal approach to religion . . . be revived" (op. cit., p. 78). The family is the normal and natural place for communal acts, and the intentions of family members can reach out and include all in the community.
But in keeping with the admonitions of Christ, we may also decide to give up something in secret. The children might decide to say nothing if their favorite radio or TV program is passed by. The father may give up some of his deserved leisure in his easy chair to play with the children. The mother may forego some secular reading or a card game and perform some special service for a family member instead. The children will need some quiet instruction and aid in how to develop the virtue of self-denial in secret, but they readily respond to such chances for sacrifice.
Activity Source: Lent and Holy Week in the Home by Emerson and Arlene Hynes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1977
Please ask your Catholic friends as many 'questions' as you can think of. Just for information, of course. We Catholics, especially English speakers and, most of all, Americans, need all the help we can get in remembering what the heck our Church actually teaches.
My My, you see what Vatican ll has done! This is a sad statement,....What has happened to the Catholic Faith ?
Having read some of the 16 documents, I think it didn't 'do' much of anything.
I certainly see the result of a lot of people using V II as a convenient excuse for dissent. I lived through it. The dissent is the work of the people not the Council.
I certainly remember many North American 'theologians' formally rebelling when Humanae Vitae was issued. They challenged the Papal authority to definitively teach morality and they did it in writing. That wasn't the Council's fault. That was a venal grasping for power by human beings.
Of course, if one reads the history of the Church there doesn't seem to be any century when the Church has not been under continuous assault from within and without. A Golden Age in The Past of equanimity and widespread faithfulness is a fairy tale.
Lenten ping. Here's wishing blessings to all.
Bump for Tribune7 since I recommended the thread for his/her consideration.
We all need to stop and put these things into practice. The world has gone so corrupt.
It is the Holy Latin Mass that held the Faith and the world together and made the Catholic Church Univerisal,One Holy, Roman Catholic and Apostalic . Until it returns all the way..the world will continue to falter.
Have you ever seen the video "wHAT WE lost AND THE ROAD TO RESORAtion"....tells it how it all happened the modernizing of the Church ect. Very eye opening- and it is sooo much easier to see it then to go into looong explanations on Vatican ll.
Thanks, Fritzy, that's exactly why I post these things. With the hope that one family will be helped!
Trying to talk about families and Lent here.
Eastern Catholics are always edified by hearing this. It must be news to them that their Rites don't quite make the grade.
I grew up in the Latin Rite, pre V II. Love the Tridentine Rite. Wouldn't mind putting the N.O. back up on the shelf as a curiosity.
But villifying the Council and the N.O. as the cause of our dissent is misguided. I lived through it. We were looking for any excuse to fabricate the Church Of Do Your Own Thing. And we misused the Council and the N.O. as convenient excuses for our rebellion.
|Thursday, February 10, 2005
St. Scholastica, Virgin (Commemoration)
To put it mildly., the N.O. was the worse thing that ever happend to the Catholic ,Holy Mother the Church.
The beauty of the Catholic Churches all but desinagrated, the crucifixes, find one if you can. Reverence out the window. Fear and love of God, replaced with "love and Peace" embrassing everything from Commumion in the Hand to to dancing clowns and fairies ,and hot dogs for Communion. Altars where the ultimate sacrafice of Jesus' death, was remembered, cast out by the table of which faces the people to have what they call a meal. and on and on . Now 40+ years later, the results of the loss of Faith. Catholic Churches close, priests who no longer,(some) not to be trusted, all habits removed for the secular look.Women at the front, and the Commandmets put on the side, for so many youth who know not about their soul, God,Jesus, Mary the Rosary, ect....Yes, the old Latin Mass Matters and the reason it simple it held the Faithful ! Converted sinners and taught heaven and Hell. Why is the crime rate soooooo high everywhere? Would this happend IF these criminals knew God ? and His Laws that there is a Heaven and A Hell_ -- I think not. It IS the MAss that Matters ! and until it returns full force, things will continue to go down hill.
I appologize- The post is indeed all important LENT!
Thanks for the reminder.
The three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The key to renewed appropriation of these practices is to see their link to baptismal renewal.
Prayer: More time given to prayer during Lent should draw us closer to the Lord. We might pray especially for the grace to live out our baptismal promises more fully. We might pray for the elect who will be baptized at Easter and support their conversion journey by our prayer. We might pray for all those who will celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation with us during Lent that they will be truly renewed in their baptismal commitment.
Fasting: Fasting is one of the most ancient practices linked to Lent. In fact, the paschal fast predates Lent as we know it. The early Church fasted intensely for two days before the celebration of the Easter Vigil. This fast was later extended and became a 40-day period of fasting leading up to Easter. Vatican II called us to renew the observance of the ancient paschal fast: "...let the paschal fast be kept sacred. Let it be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday and, where possible, prolonged throughout Holy Saturday, so that the joys of the Sunday of the Resurrection may be attained with uplifted and clear mind" (Liturgy, # 110).
Fasting is more than a means of developing self-control. It is often an aid to prayer, as the pangs of hunger remind us of our hunger for God. The first reading on the Friday after Ash Wednesday points out another important dimension of fasting. The prophet Isaiah insists that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (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 the injustices of our economic and political structures, those who are in need for any reason. Thus fasting, too, is linked to living out our baptismal promises. By our Baptism, we are charged with the responsibility of showing Christ's love to the world, especially to those in need. Fasting can help us realize the suffering that so many people in our world experience every day, and it should lead us to greater efforts to alleviate that suffering.
Abstaining from meat traditionally also linked us to the poor, who could seldom afford meat for their meals. It can do the same today if we remember the purpose of abstinence and embrace it as a spiritual link to those whose diets are sparse and simple. That should be the goal we set for ourselvesa sparse and simple meal. Avoiding meat while eating lobster misses the whole point!
Almsgiving: It should be obvious at this point that almsgiving, the third traditional pillar, is linked to our baptismal commitment in the same way. It 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.
Whoa?! What's with all this good deeds and sacrifice stuff? I thought faith alone was the trick to getting my pearly gates ticket punched!
That is part of Lent for Catholics. Glad you have an open mind.
Have a blessed Lent.
Since when does it hurt to love our neighbor?
Mother or a child: From the words of St. Paul (2 Cor. 6:1-2).
Dearly beloved, we entreat you not to receive the grace of GodFather: This time of fasting has opened to us the gates of paradise. Let us accept it, praying and beseeching
in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I have beard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Family: That on the day of resurrection we may be glorified in the Lord.
Father: Let us pray. Through the observance of Lent, O Lord, you purify your Church every year. See to it that your children lead a better life and so obtain the graces they are striving to acquire by doing penance. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.
Family: Amen. Favor this dwelling, Lord, with your presence. Far from it repulse all the wiles of Satan. Your holy angels let them live here, to keep us in peace. And may your blessing remain always upon us. This we ask of you through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.
Father: Let us bless the Lord.
Family: Thanks be to God.
Father: May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless and keep us.
Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975
Monday February 14, 2005 First Week of Lent
Reading (Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18) Gospel (St. Matthew 25:31-46)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord makes very clear the point regarding judgment, that the judgment is going to be based upon our actions. Now our actions are also predicated upon our faith. Those who are not Catholic always like to point out that it is by faith alone that you are saved. It never says that once in Sacred Scripture. In fact, in Saint James it says: You are not saved by faith alone. It is the only time in the entire Bible that the words faith alone come up, so it is very clear that it is not on faith alone that we are going to be saved. However, faith is required for salvation. But if we are going to say that we believe, then what is required is to act upon what we believe. That is precisely what Our Lord is telling us today, that it is in the actions we do toward other people that we are going to be judged.
If we are going to say that we believe in Christ, then the first thing we have to be able to do is to see Christ in other people and treat them as Christ. Now some people make it very difficult to be able to see Christ in them. Yet, at the same time, if we ask ourselves, How did Our Lord treat those who mistreated Him, it was still with charity. He was silent when they treated Him badly. He prayed for those who put Him to death; He did not condemn them. Then we look at ourselves and ask, How many times have we, in essence, condemned others? How many times have we told them in reality that we hope they do not go to heaven, because we have told them that they are to go elsewhere? How many times have we treated people in a way that is unjust, in a way that is uncharitable?
We look at Our Lord, and when it came to the Pharisees it was not that He was always Mr. Nice. People have this idea that to be a Christian means everything has to be nicey-nice. Nowhere in Scripture are you going to find that either. From our own Lords mouth, we hear terms like brood of vipers, as He calls the Pharisees. But what He is doing is telling them the simple truth, and He is calling them to conversion, to true conversion. To treat somebody with charity does not mean that we do not acknowledge the truth. If someone is doing something wrong, we can acknowledge that they are doing something wrong; but the difference is that we do not want to sit back and play the judge. It is up to God to determine who goes which direction. And the determination of where we are going to go is based in part on our belief in Jesus Christ; but the greatest part, on what we do with that belief, on how we act in accordance with that belief.
Even in the Old Testament, as we heard in the Book of Leviticus this morning, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are called to act with justice. For instance, Moses told the people that they are not to curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, they are not to withhold the wages from the day laborer, they are not to lie, they are not to be deceptive, and these sorts of things. So we can look at our own lives and we can ask ourselves, Where are the areas of injustice? Where are the areas where I am failing to act in charity? Where are the areas where if I really believe in Christ I would be doing something different? That is what the Lord is going to be looking at. On the Day of Judgment, we are going to be judged according to what we have done in the flesh, as Saint Paul says, that is, according to our deeds. That is made very, very clear many times over in Scripture.
So, yes, we must believe, but then we must act upon that belief. And the best way to act upon that is to see Jesus Christ in other people and to treat those people as we would Christ. If it is difficult, all we need to do is remember Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who would go down the street and see somebody lying there who was dying and had open sores with insects crawling in them and all kinds of horrible diseases. She would pick them up off the street because she saw Jesus Christ in those people. That is not what we are having to deal with. Maybe we are dealing with some people who are unjust, who are nasty and mean, or whatever. But if we can try to see Christ in those people and treat them in accordance with that understanding, then we are going to change the way that we live, then we are going to be truly living the faith that we profess. That is the basis of our judgment, so it is not just a nice idea it is a requirement if we want to be able to go to heaven. And that is exactly what Our Lord is telling us we have to do. The judgment is based upon our actions, good or evil, depending on what we do in the body.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
Perhapps -- Perhaps
The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy illustrate the ways to show charity toward others.
As the good old hymn goes, "I clap my hands and say Glory, Glory to the Son of God." Lord, we praise you and thank you for your many blessings. Please watch over us in the coming week. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen."