Whether you have been a baptized Catholic your whole life or you are just beginning a faith journey searching for who God is, this holy season of Lent is a wonderful opportunity for you to strengthen your faith and open your heart to the love of God.
During Lent, Catholics are reminded of our own baptismal covenant to be closer to God. Lent is a time for renewal, a time for conversion. We are called to put away our sinful ways and become renewed in Christ.
Oftentimes, people will give up something for Lent, such as chocolate or television, as a means of discipline or penance during Lent. Others will do something positive, such as commit to praying the rosary or participating in the celebration of Mass daily, or even reaching out to someone in need. In either case, a conversion can occur.
Father Jorge Torres, director of the diocesan Office of Vocations, encourages the faithful to pray for an ongoing conversion in their daily lives – beyond the 40 days of Lent.
“Ongoing conversion is a time when we choose - am I going to do it my way or God’s way?” he said. “When we think of that, there is growth. There is growth in our vision, our spirit, our whole being senses an invitation from God. As we grow in our faith, we realize that by inviting change, we become closer to God.”
With prayer and small changes that lead us closer to Christ, there is an opportunity to receive God’s love more fully.
“We are all invited to a deeper growth,” Father Torres said. “We should always keep striving to move towards God who is waiting for us with open arms. A conversion is really putting God first and trusting that he will provide for our needs. It is ultimately an experience of love from God.”
Information for Individuals
Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives. Here is information about the Sacrament of Penance, also known as Confession or Reconciliation.
The three traditional Lenten practices are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God's unconditional love. Almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).
The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their relationship to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
Information for Parishes
For the Office of Liturgy Advisory for Lent and Easter, which includes the guidelines for fasting and abstinence, click here.
Excerpt from Pope Francis's Lenten Message:
“As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: 'For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.'" Read entire text here.
Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from the words of Pope Francis featured on this calendar and contemplate the suggestions for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.