Friday after Ash Wednesday

A Lenten Renewal:
Daily considerations of the liturgical readings as they apply to our contemporary lives
By Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My dear Good people,
Some of us can remember the days when Lent was much more challenging in one way than it is now. There was far greater emphasis on fasting from meat and food in general: the secular newspapers were full of meatless recipes throughout the six weeks of Lent. In fact the ‘rules’ for fast and abstinence (not eating meat) were etched clearly on the hearts of Catholics by our Priests during Sunday Lenten sermons. So people took fasting in stride, though it was very difficult, and found ways to perform voluntary sacrifices. It was a time of very great penance, performed almost universally by Catholics, often with very great love.
That changed after the Second Vatican Council. The emphasis shifted from a directive for fasting to voluntary fasting (except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). The emphasis was on freely choosing to live in a more penitential way. That was good for some, but for others it wasn’t a long step from strict fasting to very little sacrifice during Lent. One had to be careful not to allow Lent to lose its meaning. It wasn’t a deliberate choice, but a kind of carelessness that ‘just happened’ to some of us.
That, too, has changed in recent years, though. It seems there is more emphasis on spending more time in prayer and in almsgiving–sharing our ‘treasure’ with the less fortunate. ‘Fasting’ too, has come to mean letting go of patterns of sinfulness that prevent us from the freedom that holiness brings. Is this better than the way people used to experience Lent? Not necessarily. But it’s the way that is given to us and we have learned to make decisions for Lenten practices that are most meaningful for each of us personally.
We’ve come to the third day of Lent. What is God asking of us today? How is our program for Lent shaping up? On Sunday the Gospel will show us Jesus entering the wilderness for forty days, the first-ever Lent. In what wilderness will we find ourselves this year? More importantly, in what desert will we meet Jesus? None of us makes Lent alone. We enter into the soul of Jesus and learn to love Him in new ways through our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The responsibility is ours not to lose our way.
That is why we pray for one another, you for us, we for you. Let’s meet on Sunday at Mass and look a bit more at the way of sacrifice that fits God’s agenda for each of us.
God bless you. Be safe.
“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

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