Lent … or Why We Care

Pope John Paul II In Prayer.jpg

As I was reflecting on a short post to kick off Lent (with EWTN playing a bit in the background), this awesome quote caught my attention on the screen.

Prayer joined to Sacrifice constitutes the most Powerful Force in Human History.

– John Paul II

This captures one of the essential elements of Lent … but of course like with anything of God, there’s more … much more.

Dive a Bit Deeper
These excerpts from a longer letter provides some sound guidance worthy of reflection:

On … February 25, Ash Wednesday (today), we begin our annual observance of the Season of Lent … a time of annual retreat for the universal Church, when all of us who have come to life in Christ through Baptism accompany our Lord into the desert for forty days to fast and pray, in order that we, with Him, may give ourselves more completely to doing the will of God the Father in all things. (emphasis added)

The threefold practice of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is the heart of the Lenten observance, for it is directed to the purification of our minds and hearts in a more Christlike life … which is the fruit of our Lenten observance.

Surely we cannot doubt our spiritual need of the forty days of Lent. We struggle in our personal lives to overcome sinful inclinations and to follow Christ with integrity of mind and heart. What is more, we live in a culture which demands ever greater courage in giving witness to Christ …

-Bishop Robert Hermann,
Administrator
Archdiocese of St. Louis

Bottom line, in order to get the most out of Lent we ned to commit to a balanced program, a combination of sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving (doing something meaningful for others).

A Program That’s Just Right
What we do should be in keeping with our vocation – for example, it would be absurd for a man who is a husband and father to commit to a four week retreat in the woods, when he has a wife, family, and workplace that might not be too cool with that.

On the other hand, asking too much of ourselves is not the most common problem these days … rather, apathy, laziness, a lack of perseverance, and a general air of indifference are far, far more common problems.

So for most of us the challenge is to pick practices that are a stretch, but eminently achievable while continuing to live our vocation well.

Tomorrow I’ll offer some practical ideas for selecting a Lenten program of sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving that will dispose us well for Lent.

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Lent … or Why We Care

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