For many, Lent is beginning. And people will be focused on this time of repentance and preparation for Easter with prayer, fasting/abstinence, and almsgiving. Various denominations do this, and Lent is open to everyone who wants to join in. Our natural lives are marked by seasons, and I love the way my spiritual life is as well, both between me and God, and also shared in community and through the ages.
As we go through Lent, it is helpful to remember that these things are FOR us. They are to help us, not hurt us. And they are also Acts of Mercy to help others.
I want to encourage you, and myself as well, to remember prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s easy to forget about one of them.
Prayer. Spending time with Your Higher Power and asking blessings upon others is vital. You are connecting with the one who made you, and that always makes the day better. (Plus, your Higher Power loves you desperately and might just miss you!) You are also making a difference in the world which so needs it. The world needs our prayer desperately. It is an act of survival for you, and an act of Mercy for others. (I also recommend praying some protection prayers. Discouragement will try to get in during Lent! St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a good start.)
Fasting. Fasting is a vital part of our life. It is for us as well, as we peel away the distractions and the confusions that make our lives chaos, and have more time to spend with God. Think of the St. John of the Cross Poem, the Dark Night of the Soul, in which the soul’s “house being all stilled” has no distractions but the light of love leading her to her lover. I will post the Loreena McKennitt song from his poem at the end of this post. It is for our character, as we learn temperance through sacrifice. And it is a powerful, powerful prayer for others, an Act of Mercy that can be offered up to bless them. Anything we give up can be used this way. And there is a connection to the next item.
Almsgiving. A spiritual director once asked me to give up something for Lent that costs money so that I can give the money to the poor. For some reason, I had forgotten this connection. It is vitally important that we help those in need. There is so much need. We must exercise being part of this community of the world and do something to help. I have said before that we can’t do everything, but there are many of us. If we each help in one or two areas as God calls, it is good. So many people see all the needs in the world and grow paralyzed. If we help as God leads, no matter how small an amount, we are doing something to make a difference, and that helps us and our hearts. And we are helping others as well. It is important to remember.
As you can see, many of these things would be good to do all year round. But we are focusing a special season for it. So let us think about the now, and deal with discerning the rest of the year later. These things help us as well as helping others. Let us begin.
“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.”—St.Therese of Lisieux
“Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.”— St. John Chrysostom
“We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: “I will pray, and then I will understand.” This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.”— St. Charles Borromeo
“Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones.” Ask and you shall receive,” Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord.”— St. Peter Julian Eymard
CLICK HERE for lyrics.
May God bless and protect you this day.