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What Are You Doing for Lent?

When we began the new liturgical year with the 1st Sunday of Advent on November 29, 2020, I spoke in my homily about new years’ resolutions. Then, what I said was in the context of our readiness for the Second Coming. We should ask ourselves what do we need to change in our lives. In making a “new year’s resolution” at the beginning of a new year in the church, we do so asking God to help us succeed in our resolution.

Then, on January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I spoke in my homily on the challenges of 2020 and what we hope for in 2021. At the end of that homily I said, “Personally, I pray here for three things. The first, of course, is an end to the Coronavirus pandemic. The second is for all to return to church and for new people to come too. The third is that the Holy Spirit continue to guide me to teach through presentations, my website, and this blog to help grow closer to God.”

With the availability of vaccines, we are turning a corner in the Coronavirus pandemic (we pray in thanksgiving to God helping the researchers develop vaccines so quickly). We haven’t seen many people come back to church yet since the vaccines came out but, hopefully, people will return once they get the vaccine. Lastly, I continue to offer webinars, led by the Holy Spirit (I am currently doing a series, Treating Life with Dignity and Love on Catholic Pro-Life teaching).

Now, we will begin Lent in a few days. The distribution of ashes will be different this year because of the Coronavirus. In accordance with the Vatican, instead of placing the ashes on people’s foreheads, the priest will sprinkle ashes on top of the person’s head to avoid physical contact.

During Lent, we have our fasting and abstaining customs.

We also have the custom of making a personal choice to give something up for Lent. This can include giving up some time from something else and giving that time to the Lord. It might be coming to daily Mass. It could include praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent. Many churches normally have a time for Stations of the Cross as a group on Fridays in Lent. If your parish does not or you cannot go, here are some links to find versions of the Stations of the Cross that you can do from your own home.

Have you given any thought to what you will do for Lent this year? Will it be the same thing as every other year or will you do something new? Will it help you become a better person? Will it help someone else? Will it show your love for Jesus?

If you have not yet decided what you will be doing for Lent, you might consider making an examination of conscience. Generally, when we speak of examining our conscience, it is in the context of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this examination we are identifying our sins to confess them so that we can receive God’s forgiveness. This is a good thing to do anytime of the year but especially during Lent.

In this context of discerning what we will do for Lent, by examining our conscience, I am suggesting we look at patterns in our lives of bad behaviors. The question here is there something we could give up or add to our lives to change the bad patterns in our lives.

For example, in examining our conscience, how are we doing with the Third Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy? Is there something in your life that keeps you from making Sunday a day for the Lord (see my article, “The Lord’s Day”)?

Another way to think about something to do for Lent is to ask yourself how are you doing at avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins. For example, when was the last time you went to Confession? If it has been a long time, you might ask yourself why you haven’t gone. Is it because of your pride, not wanting to tell the priest your sins? How might you change that? Perhaps one can make effort during Lent to turn from pride to the virtue of humility (see my article, “The Battle Against Sin”).

Another thing to think about for Lent is gluttony. Do you consume so much that others don’t have enough? Would that be against the Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal? Think about this as you fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

So, what are you going to do for Lent? I need to pray about this myself.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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