We have started the Lenten season. I would like to start by saying that for some time it occurred to me to write what I am writing in this article last weekend in such a way that it was a preparation for the beginning of Lent. But then I changed my mind because I thought that it is not the same to prepare ourselves before time to do what we have to do than to actually do what we are asked to do when we are supposed to do it. This is why I hope that this article can be more beneficial during this Lenten season in which we are “already” in. I want to dedicate this article to some practices the Church recommends us to live during this time of Lent.
The three most important practices that the Church proposes are: fasting, prayer and alms giving. That is, during this time we are asked to intensify our prayer (our dialogue with God), to be more generous with what God gives us and to share with those most in need, and to fast from the things to which we are accustomed (especially those that we like the most) as a way of reminding ourselves that life does not consist only of material pleasures or satisfying our most physical instincts but in becoming aware that a very important part of us is oriented towards the spiritual dimension.
Fasting, is obligatory for all Catholics between 14 and 59 years of age. It consists of eating something light in the morning (a coffee and a slice of bread for example), at midday take the regular meal, and in the afternoon take a light snack like a glass of milk with a slice of bread. Fasting is observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and we are also asked to abstain from red meat and other more luxurious meals every Friday of Lent.
These are the three strongest practices through which the Church asks us to live this time of grace.
But, in addition to these three forms proposed by the Church, I would like to propose some other practices, taking into account that this time is a time of sacrifice, of austerity, of denying ourselves. These are my suggestions for you:
To strive not to sin, and in a special way to leave those sins, or that sin, which overwhelms us the most. With the help of God and our effort we can do it.
Practice good works. Many times, we think that the "little" we do does not make much difference in life, but the truth is that if we add the "little" we all do, this becomes something bigger than we can imagine.
Abstinence. It is good to refrain from doing things to which we are strongly attached. We do this as a form of self-control. That is, with abstinence we tell ourselves that things do not have power over us, rather, we control things. One form of abstinence that I propose is abstinence from social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Look for spiritual readings for this time of grace. Hopefully and you can find literature that will help you connect with God, something that speaks to your heart and your desire to be closer to Him.
Do what we have to do in our vocation as Christians with the conviction that this is how we are fulfilling the will of God. That is to say, to become aware that God has called us to live a specific vocation (married, single, in the priestly or religious life) but to live that vocation with love, with dedication, knowing that this is the path that God gives us in a very personal way to be united to him.
Stay away from criticism and gossip. These two things are some of the ones that most take away our peace because when we criticize or talk about others in gossip, we know very well that this does not make us feel good. This time of Lent we can make an effort not to criticize or not to gossip.
Brothers and sisters, may this time of Lent help us to become more of the Lord and strengthen our relationship with Him and improve our good relations with others.
Rev. Manuel Rosiles, msps