Saturday, February 02, 2008

preparations for Lent

This is probably my favorite time of the Liturgical Year. On Wednesday, we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Basically, we spend this time from Ask Wednesday until Easter, preparing ourselves for the celebration of Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Much time is spent in reflection on our Christian faith, in contrition, making ourselves mroe open to the Lord, and probably more prayer than at other times of the year (at least for me). Some of us seek to "deny" ourselves a few indulgences over this period of time, in order to feel (if only a teensy weensy bit) clsoer to Christ's suffering on our behalf.

Growing up (in a non-religious home), Lent meant giving up candy, or chips or some such thing from Ash Wednesday until Easter, and bitching about it all the while. Fasting is only a small part of how we (as practicing Catholics) follow Lenten traditions. It's also a time to consider how we think of those less fortunate (which should be a state of charity and compassion all the year round). During Lent, we focus more sharply on how we might help those less fortunate whether it be through actual giving of monies, talents or sharing time with those who need it. On Fridays through Lent (and really it's suggested all year round) we abstain from eating meat, we refrain from using the word "alleluia" in a liturgical setting at Mass, that we might focus more on contrition, almsgiving, self improvement and some self denial in order that we might deepen our relationship with Christ. Many Catholics traditionally choose this time of year for an annual celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) in preparation to celebrate the Risen Lord at Easter.

It seems to me that the whole notion of the Lenten season is to build to a more fulfilling relationship with Christ through an instrospective look at our spiritual lives. Of course, with all the giving of oneself, combined with some good old fashioned self denial through the entire season of Lent, Holy Week leading up to Easter can create a truly blessed, exciting celebration on Easter Vigil then on Easter Sunday.

One interesting note I picked up just today, for those of us praticing various fasting and abstinences during Lent, those need not be observed on Sundays through Lent and the actual fasting concludes on the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday.

Anyhow, I am not sure where all this came from but what the heck! This year I plan to get mroe serious about my tithing to the Church, about my almsgiving and about what mroe I can do to serve my community. I am so very grateful that I have AA to share the miracle of sobriety with those who are struggling or new. Becoming Catholic and practicing my faith has done much to strengthen my belief in AA and my reward for being active in AA.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son Jesus Christ. I pray that His and Your suffering for my sake might not have been in vain. Please guide me while I plan my Lenten focus and activities. Please help me to let go of some of the people, worry and nonsense at work. I know we're in Your hands, I can only pray that I can continue to seek and find Your Will in my life.

I pray that all of my online friends find peace this Lenten season...


Adrienne said...

I LOVE Lent!! It is my favorite liturgical season.

I started early with an all day retreat for the 7th - 12th graders today. That'll get ya in the mood for Lent. LOL

vicariousrising said...

I love reading about your experiences with church. It brings such a beautiful, loving eye back over all of the traditions and practices that I think at least I (and many others) have forgotten. It reminds me that religion is a spiritual thing and not the man-made political monster it seems to be so often.

I also love the peace that it gives you. It always makes me smile to picture you in these settings and it brings back to mind my own childhood wonder about the catholic church. The comfort it brings is something I truly do like.