How to Practice Lent
February 22, 2017, 9:22 am
from Catholic Relief Services
For more information on the Lenten season, go to http://www.crsricebowl.org/about/how-to-practice-lent
Lent is our time of Preparation.
During these 40 days, we ponder what it means to “give up, take up and lift up.” Using the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we deepen our relationship with Christ and discern where God is working in our lives.
We pray for others in the global church. We reflect on what type of person God calls us to be, and we ask for his guidance in living up to our potential. There are many ways to pray, and many individuals and communities that need our prayers.
We fast, or give things up, as a reminder to remove things in our lives that get in the way of our relationship with God. When we feel hungry or choose not to eat the things we like, we are reminded that everything we have is a gift from God. Our fasting also reminds us of those who do not have enough food, who experience hunger without a choice. God calls each of us to care for those who are in need.
We give alms with a spirit of generosity to our brothers and sisters in need, honoring Jesus’ call to serve our neighbors. This Lent, through our sacrifices, we can empower and transform the lives of our brothers and sisters in need.
As Pope Francis reminds us, we are called to encounter those on the margins, to reach out to our brothers and sisters no matter where they live — and to allow them to touch our lives as well.
Pope Francis writes that he desires that Christian people everywhere more deeply reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The pope views this year as an opportunity to “reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.” He challenges us to “enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.”
Our Lenten practice requires self-discipline. Without practice, we can never hope to improve ourselves — whether we’re learning to play the piano, or trying to go deeper in our spiritual lives.