Ash Wednesday is February 17! What spiritual exercises will you be doing or that you need to do this Lent? I suggest doing something in each of the following categories – Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Last week, I addressed Prayer. Let’s look at Fasting and Almsgiving this week.
Fasting should be an essential part of our spiritual exercises. Why do we fast? We fast (eating only 1 full meal during the day) to enter into the suffering of Jesus and offer it as a prayer for particular intentions. This practice also trains and forms our will so that we can be strong in the face of temptation. During Lent, the whole Church fasts on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and on the Fridays of Lent, we abstain from eating meat. Don’t let these fasts and abstinence go to waste! Don’t just do it, but offer it up as a prayer for someone you love or are concerned about. Little acts of self-denial are good to practice during Lent as well. Giving up TV, dessert, the snooze button, coffee, sugar in your coffee, or alcohol can be difficult and very worthwhile fasts to do during Lent! I suggest one of the above, not all, to add to the communal days of fast and abstinence during this Lenten Season.
- 14 years of age and up are to abstain from meet on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays of Lent (in fact, all Fridays of the year unless you substitute some other act of self-denial).
- 18 – 59 years of age are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one meal and two smaller meals which together do not equal a full meal.
Almsgiving expresses our works of charity. Many times we think that almsgiving is just about giving money to those in need and to those who do charitable works. It is so much more than that! It is also about DOING good works! It is easy to give a donation to a charitable cause or to someone in need. To give our time and of ourselves is more difficult. The first Sunday of Lent, we have Mercy Me Sunday when we display the different charitable outreaches we have at St. James. We are fulfilling the Corporal Works of Mercy. Almsgiving is not just about supporting these endeavors with our donations, but about getting involved ourselves, doing the work and getting our hands dirty. Here are the Corporal Works of Mercy: Feeding the Hungry, Giving Drink to the Thirsty, Clothing the Naked, Sheltering the Homeless, Visiting the Sick, Visiting the Imprisoned, and Burying the Dead. Are you doing one of these things? Let me know if you would like to and we can help you do that!
Annual Catholic Appeal Commitment Sunday
Thank you to all who have already given money or pledged to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal! I am grateful for your gift! This weekend is commitment Sunday. If you haven’t given yet, please take an envelope in the pew and make a pledge or take it home to pray about it and make a gift or a pledge and help us reach our goal in supporting the building up of the Kingdom of God in our Diocese of Savannah!
As we begin this Lenten Season, may the Lord bless you and your families abundantly!
~ Fr. Daniel Firmin