Lent, a season of grace!
A little boy had just returned home from an Ash Wednesday church service. The little girl from next door asked him what the smudge was on his forehead. He replied, "It's Ash Wednesday." "What's Ash Wednesday?" she asked. "Oh," he replied, "It's when Christians begin their diet."
We talk a lot about healthy food; in the end, we end up eating all kinds of junk food. Lent invites us to keep a diet for spiritual health, which helps our physical health too.
On Ash Wednesday, the Church begins forty days of Lenten journey of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We can see in the Bible the number forty is repeated. Genesis chapter 6-9 we see, it took 40 days for sinfulness to drown in the flood before a new creation could inherit the earth. It took 40 years for the generation of slaves to die before the freeborn could enter the Promised Land. For 40 days Moses and Elijah fasted and prayed to prepare themselves for a life's work. Jesus fasted and prayed forty nights and days in the desert before the public ministry. And he faced the tempter in the desert.
In the first reading on Ash Wednesday we read from the book of Joel, “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning…” Lent asks us to come closer to God. The Gospel of Matthew tells us the means to reach the goal: Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Francis writes in his Apostolic Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel, "whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God's voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades." He continues that, "We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own."
Through the forty days of Lenten exercise of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we spring-clean our lives; sharpen our senses to be open to God and others. Lent helps us to recognize that our identity and mission are rooted in Jesus' dying and rising. Lent is a time to fast from certain things, but also a time to feast on LOVE.
Forty days of prayer is a time to reflect on the part we play in God’s one human family. Part of that prayer journey may include praying our prayer card, which is a prayer for our cluster community. Forty days of fasting is a time to remove the obstacles getting in the way of loving God and our neighbor. Forty days of almsgiving is a time to experience the spirit of poverty, and come closer to those who are in need.
What can I do this Lent? 1. Take a few minutes for daily prayer (Don’t forget to pray our prayer card). 2. Find time to attend Mass every Sunday. And if you go every Sunday, try to find time for weekday Mass at least once or twice? Or go for the Stations of the Cross. 3. Pray for one or two of your friends/families each week and invite them for the weekend Mass and come with them for Mass.
Prayer Card: Please pick up a prayer card and pray this prayer every day. We will be praying every Mass this Prayer. Let us pray for our cluster community.