As we enter into the season of Lent, we have a chance to ask ourselves, “How might we make the most of this solemn, sacred season?” Lent truly affords us a wonderful opportunity to take stock and enter into a renewal of our spiritual lives. Our parish is offering a number of ways for us to do just that.
“If I can have people do one thing this Lenten season, it’s the parish mission,” Fr. Bill says.
Our parish mission this year will be presented by Fr. Luke Doyle on February 18, 19, and 20.
“He is an ambassador of the Eucharist,” Fr. Bill says. “He is a young priest with an amazing gift of speaking and an amazing love of the Eucharist.”
Fr. Luke will preach at all of our Sunday Masses, and present the parish mission at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings.
Another opportunity happening over that same weekend is the Men Under Construction retreat on Feb. 17 for men of our diocese and region.
“It’s an all-day men’s day retreat at Church of the Ascension,” Fr. Bill says. “They’re going to have Scott Hahn as the keynote speaker, and it’s for everyone. I’d love to see our parishioners there, to see men with their sons there, to get Lent off to a good start.”
All parishioners are encouraged to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation either during our regular confession hours on Wednesdays 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (except for Ash Wednesday), or at the communal penance service on March 17 at 3 p.m.
“We will have 10 guest priests to hear confessions, so it’ll be a great opportunity to receive God’s mercy,” Fr. Bill says.
Every Friday at 5:30 p.m., we will have the Stations of the Cross followed by fish frys and shrimp boil, which parishioners are also welcome to attend.
Overall, everyone needs to consider ways in which we might engage in the aspects of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving throughout the Lenten season.
“We should always use the Church’s traditions of those three parts,” Fr. Bill says.
For prayer, parishioners might consider committing to an adoration hour, either as individuals or as a family.
“I want to see every hour filled, with someone praying in the chapel,” Fr. Bill says. “We have had a lot of vacancies since Covid. I encourage everyone to commit to one hour a week.”
Taking time for prayer can look different for everyone. Fr. Bill encourages all parishioners to find what works best for them, setting aside intentional time for quiet contemplation and prayer. Perhaps it’s a regular examination of conscience, attending an extra daily Mass, or joining our prayer chain.
For fasting, Fr. Bill recommends giving up something physical, be it coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, or something else.
“But remember, it’s your penance, not your family’s or spouse’s,” he says. “Fast also from negativity and grumpiness. Another important thing for people to reflect upon is the most important fast of all — from grudges, self-pity, and resentments. Fast from those things.”
For almsgiving, it is most traditionally practiced that whatever you give up, you take the amount and bring that money to charity or the Church, ensuring we feed the poor and needy. But we can also give alms through how we spend our time.
“The best form of almsgiving is your presence in some sort of service,” Fr. Bill says. “Give your time to someone at the soup kitchen — not only serve food but also love. Or in the Street Ministry, you may be the only person who treats that person with dignity that week. In that moment they are beloved children of God. We can give the most precious thing, our time.”
Be it someone in a nursing home, the elderly, a neighbor, or a friend, we can give of our time.
“That, in a way, is a beautiful form of almsgiving,” Fr. Bill says. “You’re giving a gift of time and concern.”
Lent is an ideal time to recommit to various aspects of the spiritual life and to look at where we can grow in preparation for Easter.
“The biggest encouragement is for people to do prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and attend various parish functions,” Fr. Bill says.