Our February Catholicism 101 was on Lent. We often think of Lent as simply a time of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, with the focus being on the actual acts and not the spiritual aspects we should be experiencing. There is so much more than just prayer, fasting and almsgiving to experience during the season of Lent. Lent is a time to remember that God made us to be in the image and likeness of Himself. It is through the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that we are assisted in adjusting our personal form to be more like Christ.
As we look at prayer first, we must ask ourselves if we are speaking to God enough, and more importantly, are we listening to God enough. If we are struggling to hear the voice of the Lord, there are some relatively simple ways we help ourselves to focus. The first prayer method we can try is Lectio Divina, praying through the Scriptures. A starting point is to read the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday. Read slowly and deliberately, pausing when something strikes you. Examine what is striking you. Ask the Lord to help you to understand what He is telling you. Another, more basic step, is to remember that if we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. It may be that we need to set a schedule or incorporate our prayer time into our regular daily routine.
Next, we have the opportunity to understand fasting. Fasting is designed to help us better understand our relationship with the physical world. Are we out of balance? We should be hungry for more than the physical. Fasting allows us to have room for God. Do we long for God in the same way we long for coffee, chocolate or alcohol? Abstaining from these allows us the opportunity to bring our lives into a better balance by removing these distractions.
Finally, we are called to almsgiving. We all have more than enough to share, whether it be time, talent or treasure. The challenge we have is where we prioritize our gifts. Do we give from our first fruits or from our leftovers. Lent is a time to examine where we are supposed to be and make the necessary course corrections to be living our life to reflect Christ.
An area we have to be aware of during the season of Lent, however, is the forgiveness we can receive from the Lord if we but ask rather than being caught up in the sin we have committed. The first step is admitting where we are wrong, where we made deliberate decisions to live against God's teaching. The second step it is seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation and invite the Lord to help us be who we are called to be. We need to seek the sacrament with a confidence we will be forgiven by a merciful God.
Lent is a time for us to be called to a conversion of heart. It is a time to know we should be better, and we can be better if we ask God for His help. Join us for our next Catholicism 101: God's Love, God's Will and Free Will...how does it all work?