Wednesday is the beginning of Lent! Are you ready? On that day, we enter that 40 day period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I encourage you to pick something in each of those categories to practice during these 40 days.
Here a few suggestions. Increase your time of prayer each day or commit to one hour of adoration in the Lumen Christi Chapel. Pray a rosary each day. Maybe you can commit to coming to daily mass Monday through Friday; or Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; or Tuesday and Thursday; or on Wednesday evenings at 5:30. Read the readings of the day using the Word Among Us or the Magnificat. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet each day. Learn how do practice Lectio Divina. Prayer is a conversation with God in which we speak with Him, but mostly we listen to Him through Sacred Scripture or the Liturgy.
Perhaps we can cut back on sugar in our coffee or drink only water instead of that sweet tea that we so love. We could give up alcohol or sweets. Here is something that might challenge most of us: give up Netflix or Prime Video or AppleTV. How about this one: buy only the essentials, no discretionary spending on Amazon or in any store. Fasting helps us refocus on what is most important and fill our lives with what is Good, True, and Beautiful. Fasting also helps us to train our will so that we choose what is good.
We practice increased charity when we give alms. Perhaps we can give more money to the poor when we see them or they ask us for money. Maybe we increase our weekly offertory gift to the parish. Our Lady of Confidence Carmelite Monastery could use our help. There are many needs in the Church and in our world that need our assistance. Increasing our almsgiving gives us a chance to really take stock of where our heart is. Where your treasure is there is your heart. I ask myself, “Is my heart focused more on me or on others? Is it on my own wellbeing or the wellbeing of others?” Almsgiving takes our eyes off ourselves and places them on others.
Each of us will make our own commitments this Lent. I would, however, like to ask each of you to pray for one another like we did last year. Please pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory be for all your fellow St. James parishioners. This binds us together as we go through Lent and journey together towards Easter. We do not go through our life of faith alone. We help each other. We bear one another’s burdens. We pray for each other. Let’s do this again this year along with our other acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
May the Lord Jesus bless you and your families abundantly this week!
~ Fr. Daniel Firmin