Lent is here! Our forty days of repentance of sin and conversion to Christ! Ash Wednesday has come and gone and along with it the ashes on our foreheads. But the call to commit to more prayer, more penance, more sacrifice and more charity remains!
The three traditional Lenten disciplines are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. St. Peter Chrysologus taught that “prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives.” How can we take that wisdom to heart for Lent? How can we let those disciplines rule our lives offer our own passions and selfish desires?
Begin with prayer. Jesus taught us to pray always. (Luke 18:1) To pray is to enter consciously and deliberately into the presence of God. Jesus was faithful unto death because He knew that He was always in the presence of our Heavenly Father, even when He did not feel that presence.
We too are all always in the presence of our Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly. To “pray always” means to “practice the presence of God.” During this Lenten season, find the time to be with God in prayer. Stop by Church and spend time with the Lord. Pray the Rosary with more frequency. Pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays. Come to Daily Mass. God is present to us always, so why not acknowledge it with more prayer time.
Our Lenten fasting is more than just self-inflicted hunger, and it certainly isn’t dieting. Fasting is a discipline that allows us to discover our true needs and our present priorities. It allows us to discover whether our supposed desire for God is greater or less than our obvious desires for everything that is not God.
This Lent, choose to fast from those things, including those very good things, thateasily become idols in our lives. Let’s see if our desire for fullness, pleasure and love can be met by God. Until we give God every opportunity to be the first in our lives, we continue to fall into some form of idolatry. We’ll continue to approach material things and even people in a grasping way, rather than approaching them with generous and open hands and hearts.
In Catholic tradition, alms giving were the acts of charity or donations given above one’s tithe or duty. This year, let the Lenten discipline of alms giving become the practice of a lifetime. Make a choice to spend more time, money and energy supporting the needs of the poor and less fortunate. Give alms by supporting charity out of sacrifice not simply by giving from a surplus.
Next weekend we put our alms giving to the test as we take up the Catholic Charity Appeal at OLM. It is our annual call to prayerfully and financially support the good works of our local Church in the Diocese of Providence. These good works include welcoming refugees and immigrants, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless,aiding the sick and visiting the prisoner, and teaching the beauty and truth of the Catholic Faith to our young people and sharing the Good News of Christ with the ignorant.
The Catholic Charity Appeal supports the many ministries and programs of the Diocese of Providence which provide social, educational and spiritual support to thousands of Rhode Islanders each year regardless of race, creed or background. We do not help people because they are Catholic, we do it because we are Catholic!
We take up the Catholic Charity Appeal at all Masses next weekend. Our 2018 OLM Parish Goal is $193,000 and I am hopeful that we can once again not only make the goal but exceed it! I thank Kevin and Nancy McDevitt for serving as the General Chairs of the CCA here at OLM and also Steve and Antonia Zubiago who serve as the Chairs to the Bishop’s Partners in Charity at OLM. I am grateful for their leadership of the Charity Appeal in our parish.
Please be prepared as we take up the in-pew solicitation of the CCA at all Masses next weekend. We are asking every parish family to prayerfully consider pledging a sacrificial gift of $300 over 12 months. I am grateful for any support you choose to give and in the name of the poor and needy who directly benefit from your generosity, I offer my sincere thanks and gratitude.
It’s Lent so remember that Fridays are for fish and Stations! Do good. Be well. Pray, fast and give alms!