Lent for many has meant a time to give up chocolate or sweets. Certainly, the acts of fasting and sacrifice are part of the Catholic tradition and are among the most important calls that our church asks us to answer during lent. Prayer and almsgiving form an equally important part of our lenten journey. In our prayer we are driven by the Spirit into the desert with Christ (Matthew 4:1) and in our prayer we are nourished by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). In addition, almsgiving is giving with love, just as God loves.
As the entire Church prepares for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum, each of the forty-days during the Lenten season is an opportunity for a renewed encounter with Christ, for simple living, and for preparation for Easter. This lenten season, I would like to share some different ideas that I have come across that you can incorporate into your life to make lent even more meaningful for you.
- Pray it forward. Pray the Rosary every day (or on a specific set of days) for the intentions of someone in your life and give the person you prayed for the Rosary that you used. Invite them to do the same.
- Desert Journal. Keep a Lenten journal to catalogue your journey with Christ into the desert.
- Secret Intercessor. Pick one person for whom you feel called to offer prayer and sacrifice during the Lenten season. Take note of prayers and sacrifices offered and send them a card on Holy Saturday letting them know that you have offered your Lenten observance as an act of love with Christ for them.
- Good Samaritan Bags. Get some reusable bags and pack them with healthy snacks, toiletries, socks and other helpful items. Share in the community with those who can use them.
- Lenten Baby Shower. Collect diapers, wipes, bottles, baby clothes and other items that you would buy for a baby shower. During Holy Week, bring it to the local pregnancy centre.
- Take a Hike. Jesus’ time in the desert was a journey of silence and solitude. Take a day by yourself to pray in the wilderness. Turn your phone off, or leave it behind. The point is to spend time alone with God in silence.
After reminding us that “every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping, and loving,” Pope Francis concludes by saying:
"The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father."
Let us therefore embrace the Easter season as a time to be true Christians: to embrace Joy, live without Fear and see the world as God sees it.
Dr. Dwayne Zarichny