This Wednesday we begin the great season of Lent. The season of Lent begins by reminding us of a stark reality and that is that we are dust and into dust we shall return. Many times, we don’t like to be reminded of this reality and we can find the thought depressing. However, it’s not really because it points to the fact that we have a limited time here on earth as we prepare ourselves for the Easter celebrations. There are three central practices of Lent that are good for us to consider. Those practices are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. There practices are not intended to limit us but to help us to reorient ourselves and remember we have a short time to live and that we are called to live it well.
The Lenten regulations are as follows:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
The practice of fasting and abstinence has a long history and down through the ages it has been used as a way of preparing our hearts for the future. One author points out, “In the early Church and, to a lesser extent still today, there were two fasts. There was the “total fast” that preceded all major feasts or sacramental events. The ancient name for this fast was “statio” from the verb “sto, stare” to stand watch, on guard or in vigil. The second fast was a fast of abstinence from certain foods, e.g., meats or fats. This was more an act of self-discipline and self-control. The statio fast was total and a means of watching and waiting…i.e. for something.” Most often it’s from food that we fast but one could also consider fasting from TV is they are wasting a lot of time watching TV. Maybe it’s a fast from alcohol or from using foul language or maybe we fast from a habit we have which keeps us from people. I want to encourage you this Lent to consider taking advantage of some of the opportunities for your spiritual growth.
During the season of Lent there will be several opportunities for confession every Saturday at 5 p.m.—5:50 p.m. and February 21, March 7, March 21 and March 28 at 7 p.m. Each Friday following the 5:30 Mass there will be Stations of the Cross. Throughout the season on Lent we will be praying for the 17 people who will be baptized and confirmed and receive Eucharist for the 1st time on Holy Saturday.
The season of Lent calls us to conversion and reminds us that it’s possible to, with God’s help, to create something new. Allow the Lord to enter your heart this Lent and be converted and believe in the Gospel.