As we enter into Lent, we might ask ourselves how we can make the most of this solemn, sacred season.
Lent affords us a wonderful opportunity to renew our spiritual lives. While it may not be easy or pleasurable, it is necessary to use this time to prepare our hearts and lives for Easter. We might be tempted to simply look ahead to the joy of Easter without considering the sacrifice of Lent, but in that way, we would be missing out on the chance to grow, learn, give, and pray. After all, we cannot have the Resurrection without the Cross.
“The Church gives us the three disciplines of Lent, which are almsgiving, prayer, and fasting,” Fr. Rob says. “Those truly are the three principal ways to go about living your Lent.”
In each of these areas, we can choose to engage in the season of Lent with intentionality. By taking up the practices of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, we are allowing God to work in our hearts and prepare us for His coming to us at Easter.
“We all need to strip ourselves of our comforts, our self-centeredness, all those things that hinder us in one way or another, from being present to others,” Fr. Rob says.
“It’s being in prayer, being present before the Lord,” he adds. “He is the one who helps us to see our neighbor, that at times we don’t see and are blinded by our own little worlds. We find it hard at times to see others and their needs because we’re so caught up in our own priorities and things important to us. We fail to see and recognize our neighbor who is standing right next to us and has many needs.”
Starting on Ash Wednesday, we are encouraged to take up these practices out of love of God and our neighbors. For prayer, Fr. Rob invites parishioners to pray more intimately to God, sitting in silence before Him. This could mean going into our Adoration Chapel here or making space throughout our busy lives to be still and listen to God.
For almsgiving, we have many service opportunities such as our food pantry, or the Feeding Hands Ministry — parishioners can serve with both year-round. There are also many charities with which we could consider sharing our treasure.
For fasting, Fr. Rob suggests parishioners truly take to heart a spirit of self-denial, emptying of oneself to be present to others.
“Lent is much more than just giving up chocolate,” he says. “It’s a spiritual journey through the 40 days of the Lenten desert, stripping bare of all the things that weigh us down spiritually. It is such a great time to prepare and be ready the best we can be spiritually for Easter.”
Because Lent is a penitential season, our parish will once again have its communal penance service. Parishioners are welcome to attend and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation with one of the many priests who will be in attendance. On March 25, we will also be having an all-day adoration and penance service for the second consecutive year.
In addition to these, our parish will also look forward to the annual Lenten retreat, as we welcome Fr. Michael Mary Dosch, O.P. on March 4, 5, 6, and 7. Fr. Rob invites all parishioners to consider attending the penance services and Lenten retreat.
“These are things that are there just to help us prepare, have a good Lent, and experience a glorious Easter — stripping ourselves of things that would prevent us from death to self, to life in Christ,” he says.