Are you ready for Lent?

During the season of Lent, we are called to reflect on the Passion of Christ and renew our hearts through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The 2019 season of Lent provides another chance to deepen our relationship with Christ and more profoundly live out the Good News.

Throughout Lent, the Church offers many ways to renew our hearts. Stations of the Cross invite us to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus. The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers an opportunity to experience God’s mercy through penance.

Fasting

Many know the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. These practices help us develop spiritual tools we can use throughout our entire lives. Fasting from food and misdeeds help to prepare for the Eucharist. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website offers a beautiful reflection on the subject for further exploration. The USCCB also offers a daily calendar with a reading, reflection, prayer and suggested action.

Stations of the Cross

Check your parish calendar to see opportunities offered to enhance your Lenten journey, be it through Stations of the Cross, bible studies, mission speakers or Eucharistic Adoration. Go to our diocesan online calendar to see what mission speakers are coming to your area.

Prayer & Reflection

Consider a Lenten retreat such as San Pedro Spiritual Development Center’s “From Ancient Rite of Passage to New Covenant: Two Great Meals of Liberation”- and learn about the Christian Seder meal (April 10). The retreat center also offers a Lenten Day Retreat April 16 entitled, “Do not be afraid. Just have faith!” Children and adult stations are also scheduled later in the month.  For a full list of activities, visit sanpedrocenter.org.

This is a perfect time to commit to praying as a family or creating a movie night featuring movies about the lives of saints. If your parish has FORMED, be sure to use this resource for movies, lessons and to increase your knowledge and understanding of mercy, forgiveness and numerous other spiritual subjects. Use these as a platform to share and talk about how to be living saints today, in your everyday life.

Increase your commitment to prayer. Download the Diocese of Orlando’s Faith Fit app and listen to reflections or podcasts on spiritual topics. Laudate is another free app that offers Liturgy of the Hours, daily reflections on the Gospel which you can play in your car on the way to work or while cooking dinner. It has various rosaries and prayers, including the Angelus which you can pray daily at noon. Catholic.org is another source providing prayers for each week of Lent, Holy Week, and spiritual renewal.

Perhaps you would like to pray for a special cause. 40 Days for Life continues through April 14. To find a prayer vigil near you, visit 40daysforlife.com.

Giving Alms

Giving alms helps us share our gifts with others. Volunteer in your parish Lenten outreach project or at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. As a family, prepare hygiene baggies filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and soap and give them to a local homeless shelter or Catholic Charities of Central Florida for distribution.

Provide a visual progress of your penitential effort. The Vatican suggests “sacrifice beans” for children.  Lima beans are put in a jar to help keep track of sacrifices offered, then a penitential bean dish is made on Good Friday. Or try a grapevine wreath in a visible place symbolizing Jesus’ crown of thorns. Fill it with toothpicks recalling the thorns or sacrifices promised. Have family members remove one toothpick for each successful day of sticking to their particular fast.

Penance

Lent is a time of repentance, of looking inward and being honest with ourselves so that we might be more open to God’s transforming grace. Prepare for a good confession with myParish app, where you can find a good examination of conscience and when Reconciliation is offered in your parish. The USCCB also provides examinations of conscience for both children and adults at usccb.org to help.

Make this Lent count. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving you can walk with Jesus to the cross and witness His resurrection in your own life!

By Christine Young and Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – March 6, 2019