This Season of Lent is a time of fasting, almsgiving and consciously making room for God in our busy lives. Whatever image comes to your mind, with the distribution of ashes this Wednesday we begin another Lenten journey together. Once again there are many opportunities to grasp hold of during these coming 40 days.
Fasting & Abstinence: Ash Wednesday is one of two days of fasting and abstinence set down by the Church, the other being Good Friday.
In current Catholic practice, Fasting means having only one full meal a day. Smaller quantities of food may be eaten at two other meals but no food should be consumed at any other time during the day. The law of fasting applies to those who are 18 to 59 years old.
Abstinence is the practice of abstaining from the use of certain kinds of food. Everyone aged 14 years and older is required to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
The spirit of the law may invite us to extend the fast to things other than food – tweeting, surfing the net, gambling or gossiping. The minimum fasting requirements make most sense when they are combined with prayer and almsgiving.
The Catholic practice of fasting and almsgiving aims at leading us to interior conversion. We fast in order to share our time and our treasure with an attitude of love towards God and others.
Daily Mass: Why not incorporate daily Mass into your Lenten journey this year? We have many Masses throughout the parish during the week.
Parish Mini Mission: It is important to make time to reflect on our lives and the direction life is taking us. To help us this year we welcome Fr Richard Leonard sj who will lead our Parish Mini Mission. Monday Tuesday Wednesday, February 22 to 24th from 9:30 to 10:45 at Caloundra and 4:30 to 5:45pm at Maleny. Don’t let this Lenten opportunity slip by!
Stations of the Cross: There will be Stations of the Cross every Friday at 9.30am at Caloundra, and following the 9am Tuesday morning Mass at Maleny.
Little Black Books: Available at each church are the Little Black Books, which contain short and appropriate daily reflections which are a tremendous companion throughout the days of Lent. A gold coin donation to cover the cost would be appreciated.
Do Something Different: This Lent why not mark in your diary the Taize prayer opportunity at Caloundra and Maleny Church’s on Tuesday 2nd March at 7pm.
Reconciliation: Forgiveness should be part of everyone’s Lenten journey. It is never easy! Every Saturday at OLR church from 8:30 to 9am. Our Communal Rite of Reconciliation takes place during Holy week.
Project Compassion: A practical and life giving aspect of Lent has always been our sacrifices and the ability to financially support, through the Project Compassion Appeal, those who have come off second best. Indeed, Project Compassion is something that all individuals and families can be involved in. Envelopes are available at the entrance to the Church.
Lenten Programme: This year the Lenten Programme is entitled, “Comfort”. All those who have been part of the programme in previous Lents have found it a valuable part of their journey – it’s not too late to be part of it this year. Contact the Parish office on 5430 9390. If you have ordered the Lenten books please come to the office to collect them.
Lent is a Solemn Season: You will notice that together we will pray the Confiteor while the Gloria is omitted until the great celebrations of Easter.
As a Catholic Parish, as individuals and as families, Lent is an important time. To ensure that the grace of this season, and all the God-given opportunities, do not just slip through our fingers; it is important to think now how this Lent will be different and life transforming.
Preparing Before Lent Begins
Taking some time to get ready for Lent will ensure that we aren’t going to miss the first week or two of Lent, because we are just getting started. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, but we want to be ready to really take off on that day, rather than just beginning to think about Lent on that day. Part of what makes a vacation or a special anniversary so special is the build-up to it.
Before we get to Ash Wednesday, we should start asking ourselves some questions and we should start with some preparations. “What does God want to give me this year?” This question may require that I slow down a bit and listen to my inner spirit. For example, even if I’m very busy, I realize I’m
hungry when I hear my stomach start “growling.” “What am I going to be doing on Ash Wednesday?” Too often, Ash Wednesday is like every other day, except that I manage to get to church and get ashes on my forehead. Is there anything else I can do on Ash Wednesday? How will fasting and abstaining happen for me, for my family on that special day?
It does not take a lot of time to prepare for the beginning of Lent. It just takes desire and focus. God can do so much with that. We can give God more of a space to touch our hearts if we begin to establish some simple patterns. We could wake up each morning, and for something like a half a minute to a
minute, stand by the edge of our beds, and just ask the Lord for the grace to let this day be one in which I long for the beginning of Lent. Perhaps we need to ask for specific helps or graces to get ready to begin Lent. Whatever we try to say, our Lord can understand the Spirit trying to speak through our simple words. And all it takes is the time to find and put on our slippers. And each night, in the days ahead, we can practice giving thanks to God before I go to bed. This simple pattern, in the morning and evening can stir our spirits to look forward to and prepare for Lent, as a season of grace.
May our Lord bless us all on this journey ahead.
What about “giving up something” for Lent?
When many of us were children, we might remember our giving up chocolate or ice cream for Lent. And, it seemed like a real sacrifice. As we grew up, it was often more difficult to decide what special thing to do, to make Lent a special season – to get our attention and to prepare ourselves for deeper sacrifices.
What would help me grow in freedom? That’s the question to ask. For some of us, it could be, committing ourselves to give up judging others, every single day of Lent. For others, it could be giving up a bad habit we’ve developed. For still others, it is obvious what seems to be the important choice for me during Lent.
For many of us, the choice may not be to give something up, but to add something to our daily lives during Lent. We may commit ourselves to extra prayer time. We may decide to do some service to the poor, once a week during Lent. We may choose to increase our almsgiving to the poor – perhaps related to something we choose not to do, e.g., some might choose not to go out to eat one night a week, and to give that total amount to the poor.
Whether it is fasting, abstaining or other acts of penance, the whole desire we should have is to use these means to help us grow closer to our Lord and prepare ourselves “to celebrate the paschal mystery with minds and hearts renewed.” (First Preface of Lent)
Taken from the Praying Lent pages of Creighton University’s Online Ministries website:
www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html. Used with Permission