Ash Wednesday, (March 2) the start of Lent is just around the corner. It is a special time of grace for Christians. We begin the six week period by having the priest sign us with blessed ashes on our foreheads. The three points of focus are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Each of these elements is directed towards our drawing away from sin and turning back to God with greater fervour.
Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our turning back to God.. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.
Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. It runs approximately forty days from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting. The law of fast binds those who are from 18 to 59 years old, unless they are excused for a sufficient reason (e.g., a medical condition that requires more frequent food). According to church law fasting means one full meal a day and does not prohibit some further food in the morning and evening. Not too difficult really.
In addition we are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of lent. All those 14 years and older are bound by this rule.
Project Compassion is a feature of lent that enables us to share our treasure with the poor. A weekly donation is the norm for one and all.
I would hope that in this year as we grow weary of COVID, we will make a special effort to come together in our Lenten groups to share our faith and prayer with each other. (See the groups listed on Clip boards in the Church foyer – please register)
With the psalmist let us pray Heavenly Father “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”. Silence the noise in my soul. Empty me of cravings for things of this world that do not truly satisfy. Fill me with your presence and mercy.
So many unfulfilling habits, have robbed my freedom. Cleanse me of my harmful addictions, failings, and temptations. Embrace me and hold me, as I praise you for who you are.
Remind me that it is your power in me, not my own, that offers life to others. Wash me, Lord, as you washed Peter and prepare me for renewal. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.