On Ash Wednesday, we heard the Gospel text speak to us about our call to give alms, fast and pray. More than ever the poor in our community rely on those who have resources for some assistance. I think each family could participate in Operation Rice Bowl, saving a few dollars every week to give to Catholic Relief Services that tries to alleviate hunger in the poorest parts of our world where over a billion people try to survive on less than a dollar a day. Your dollars could feed a family for a day or a week. You can also give time to some of the poor in our committee by sharing your time and talent whether at Martha’s kitchen or Second Harvest Food Bank.
Besides giving alms, Jesus invites us to pray, not like the hypocrites who stand on street corners, but in the quiet of our rooms within our own minds and hearts. For some people praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is very peaceful and rewarding. Every Friday morning there is the opportunity to pray the rosary, and experience adoration before the Blessed Sacrament after the Friday morning Mass. The chapel is accessible Monday through Thursday during normal office hours. And people can take advantage of the different Friday Evening Lenten devotions listed on the flyer and in the parish bulletin.
We are obliged to give alms, encouraged to pray often and have opportunities to fast and abstain from meat on Friday’s. Most people observe the required fast days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and there are so many other ways we can fast. We can fast from meals with meat and make vegetarian selections, or we can fast and save a few dollars to feed the poor. How about fasting from an hour of television and engage in spiritual reading, fast from gossip and exceeding the speed limit, fast from harsh language or nagging the spouse. We can feast on spending time with others, nurturing our friendships and relationships, feast on the Word of God, or the Eucharist by coming to Mass more often. We can feast on the virtue of gratitude being mindful of all that God gives to us. How about feasting on our baptismal promises in terms of our faith, developing that trust in God who calls us to transform our lives and hearts?
We enter into this season of Lent not so much with sackcloth and ashes, but with a heart open to God’s grace, God’s compassion and life. Have a great Lent as we prepare for the great feast of Easter.