“Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.” CCC 1430
As we journey through the 40 days of Lent from Ash Wednesday (March 1) until the Holy Triduum (April 13-April 16), consider how you can incorporate prayer, fasting, and almsgiving–which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others–into your daily lives to make this holy and penitential season a real springtime of conversion preparing for the joy of Easter.
“Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.” –Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017
“At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply” –Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017
Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance on how best to come to sincere conversion through prayer:
- Renew your efforts to begin and end the day with a simple prayer
- Read a chapter from the Gospels every day
- Try “praying” with scripture (Lectio Devina)
- Pray the daily rosary with your family
- Go to the sacrament of Reconciliation
- Pray the Stations of the Cross (6pm on Fridays at Old St. Patrick)
“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion.” Pope Francis —Message for Lent 2017
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays of Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. The norms of fasting are obligatory for those age 18-59 and the norms of abstinence are binding for those age 14 and older.
The fasting prescribed by the church mixed with our own acts of mortification and and service help us prepare “for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” CCC 2043
“As water quenches a flaming fire, so almsgiving atones for sins. The kindness people have done crosses their paths later on; should they stumble, they will find support.” Sirach 3:30-31
Almsgiving as a Lenten practice means donating money or goods to the poor and practicing other works of mercy.
Journey to the Foot of the Cross – 10 Things to Remember for Lent: –Bishop David Ricken