Wow! How time flies! It seems like it was Christmas, just yesterday. Today, we approach the solemn season of Lent. Throughout Lent, we engage in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Why? Well, let’s start with Ash Wednesday.
On Ash Wednesday, we take the blessed palms received from the last Palm Sunday and we bring them back to our Church for burning. Once burned into blessed ashes, the priest, or designee, applies the blessed ashes on our foreheads, stating, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and unto dust you shall return.” These ashes mark us as followers of Christ, for all to see. If you are Catholic, and have received ashes in the past, you know what I mean. Every Ash Wednesday, I always get questions about the smudge on my forehead. With that smudge, I witness to the world that, in my humanity, I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. The dirt on my forehead symbolizes the look of my soul. It also reminds me that I came from the dust/dirt of the earth (like Adam), and that’s where my body is headed upon my death.
During the Lenten season, I am also reminded that my soul is destined for eternal life with God. Lent provides us with an opportunity for atonement with God; to reflect on those areas where we have failed to live up to God’s Will for us. When we make atonement, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we reunite ourselves to Christ. We can further make known our intentions for reconciliation with God through fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Why We Fast, Pray and Give Alms
Fasting – Giving up food for a day heightens our awareness for our need for God in our lives and brings us closer to Him. We come to realize that all good things (like food) come via His bountiful blessings.
Prayer – Increasing our prayer time, increases our interaction with God. The more we interact with God, in this life, the more obvious it is that we want to spend eternal life with Him.
Almsgiving – Giving of our time, talent and treasure, during Lent, increases our awareness for the need of charity toward others. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “We are Christ’s hands and feet.” The more we make known Christ to others through our actions, the closer we unite ourselves to Christ.
So, as you can see, Lent is designed to bring us closer to Christ, and there are several ways to make that happen. This Lent make a point to fast pray and give alms.
If you would like to purchase an autographed copy of my book, Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity: Finding Patience, then click here.