Welcome to Lent! On Ash Wednesday we heard Jesus speak about prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three practices are to mark the lives of Christians all year round, but in Lent we make a special effort. As we enter into this holy season I invite you to take up these disciplines in a special way. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy let’s not be content with the bare minimum observance of Lent, but make the most of these forty days of grace.
Prayer. Once again we’ve provided copies of “Five Minutes with the Word.” These devotional aids have been popular in previous years as they help us reflect on the daily Lenten scriptures. Divine Mercy holy cards are also available, which include instructions for praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. There are also copies of the booklet, “Embracing the Year of Mercy” published by our diocese. This book contains a month of daily reflections centered on the theme of mercy. All of these are meant to aid our effort at prayer this Lent.
Fasting. Many Christians “give up” something during the season of Lent. It can be a symbolic gesture, like giving up sweets. Or, it might be a real challenge like fasting from gossip or trying to break a bad habit. The point is some type of self-discipline that helps us focus on what is most essential. Ultimately fasting – giving up what we don’t need – is meant to free us for more prayer and works of charity. In other words, giving up something is not an end in itself. It’s meant to lead us to something better.
Almsgiving. Each Sunday in Lent we will be taking up a special Lenten collection before Mass. This collection will support three charities this year. A portion will go to Fr. Emmanuel Kiganda in Uganda, Africa. (Some of you may remember Father Emmanuel from his time here in our parishes.) The money will be used for a water well project and other essential needs. Another portion of the Lenten collection will be sent to our diocesan mission parish in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This parish relies heavily on the financial support they receive from our diocese each year. And the final portion of the collection will support our parish Emergency Fund. This fund provides assistance to local folks in need of such things as gas, food, utilities, emergency shelter, and rent assistance. In advance, I thank you for your generous support of this year’s Lenten Collection!