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Guide to a Catholic Lent

Your Guide To A Catholic Lent

Everything you need for a more spiritual Lent Our Sunday Visitor

What is Lent?

Lent is the 40 day season of fasting, special prayer and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. The name "Lent" is from the Middle English Lenten and Anglo-Saxon Lenten, meaning spring….The number "40" is first noted in the Canons of Nicaea (A.D. 325), likely in imitation of Jesus' fast in the desert before His public ministry…. By the 4th century, in most of the West, it referred to 6 days' fast per week of 6 weeks (Sundays were excluded); in the 7th century the days from Ash Wednesday through the 1st  Sunday were added to make the number 40.

 

Fasting and Abstinence

Days of Abstinence: No meat can be eaten on Ash Wednesday and all of the Fridays during Lent. This applies to all Catholics 14 and older.

 

Days of Fast: Only one full meal is permitted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for Catholics between 18 and 59. Two smaller meals are permitted, but the small meals should not equal a second full meal. Drinking coffee, tea and water between meals is allowed. Snacks between meals are not allowed.

 

 

What are you doing for Lent this year?

Ask Catholics what they're doing for Lent this year, and they'll probably tell you that they are giving up a favorite food, a favorite pastime or anything else they really love but isn't essential in their lives.

Giving up something for Lent fosters self-discipline and tempers our desires. It is a form of fasting. It is a form of penance. It promotes spiritual growth. If you're giving up something for Lent, that's great. But think also about the possibility of doing something positive to bolster your spiritual life and make the world a better place. Look for ways that you can increase your knowledge of your faith, strengthen your spiritual life or perform special acts of mercy and kindness at home, at work, in your parish or in your community.

 

Lenten Prayers and Devotions

• Begin each morning with the prayer: "Lord, I offer you  this day, and all that I think, and do, and say."
• Attend Daily Mass as often as possible.
• Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
• Do the Stations of the Cross at home or your parish.
• Read Scripture for 10 minutes every day.
• Spend quiet prayer  before the Blessed Sacrament.
• Abstain from meat for an extra day or two each week.
• Listen to spiritual music or a spiritual speaker.
• Keep a Lenten journal with your spiritual insights, special intentions, people you want to pray for, hurts and disappointments that you want to offer up…

 

Stations of the Cross

Telling the story of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus was an important part of the early Christian's experience. In the late 4th century, people began making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, where they would follow the path that Jesus took to Calvary. During the Middle Ages, when outbreaks of war made it impossible for people to travel to the Holy Land, people created a Via Dolorosa, or "Sorrowful Way," in their towns and villages. They erected paintings or

sculptures depicting the Passion of Christ along a processional route or inside a church. By the mid-18th century, the number of stations was fixed at 14 and the devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, or the Way of the Cross, became widespread.

 

10 tips for making the season more meaningful

  1. Slow down – Set aside 10 minutes a day for silent prayer or meditation to revitalize your body and  spirit
  2. Read a good book - You could choose the life of a saint, a spiritual how-to, an inspirational book or one of recent popes.
  3. Be charitable - Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else every day.
  4. a Lenten lecture or spiritual program.
  5. Volunteer at your parish - Whether it's the parish fish fry, cleaning the church or helping with the food drive, it will give you a chance to help others.
  6. Reach out - Invite an inactive Catholic to come with you to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.
  7. - Especially for people you don't like and for people who don't like you.
  8. Tune out - Turn off the television and spend quality time talking with family members or friends.
  9. Clean out closets - Donate gently used items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, for example.
  10. Google "Catholic Missions." Then pick one mission and decide how you can help by sending money, clothing or supplies.

 

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…

If you haven't gone to confession in a while, Lent is the perfect time to reconcile yourself with God and the Church. Most parishes add confession times, or you can make a private appointment with a priest.

Families can make Lenten memories

Lent offers opportunities to pass on your faith to children. Here are some ideas for making Lenten memories:

  • Pray together. Even if it's just an Our Father or Hail Mary, it unites the family.
  • Let each family member mention one person or problem that they would like to pray for in a special way at dinnertime.
  • Take the kids grocery shopping for the poor. Let them help bring the food to your parish pantry orfood bank
  • Let children light a candle at church for people throughout the world who are sick or hungry.

 

What almsgiving really means

Giving alms has always been an important part of Lent. For many people, it means giving money to Catholic charities or another good cause. But almsgiving goes much deeper. It is our response to the teachings of Jesus that encourage us to reach out to people in need—not just with our money—but with our time and our talents. Today we might call it 'stewardship'. Lent gives us the opportunity to cultivate a spirit of generosity. It gives us a chance to share what we have and who we are with other people. It puts us in communion with others and helps us understand that we are all members of the Body of Christ. Think carefully about how you will share your time, your talents and your treasure during Lent. Keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

 

 

Heart, Soul and Mind

Monsignor Royal's weekly column as featured in our bulletin.


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