FR. ANDREW WRITES:
This first Sunday of Lent some of you may still be wondering what to give up for Lent. Lent is not just about giving things up, although some element of self-denial can be good. After all Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting in the desert before he started his public ministry. It can also be about trying out new things! Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, burying the dead, these are all called the corporal works of mercy and are relatively easy to do. For example visiting someone who is ill at home or in hospital is straightforward. And helping out with something like the Night Shelter here in the parish covers those first four things, i.e., giving food and drink to the hungry, clothing and sheltering the homeless. Other possibilities could include visiting or phoning up a distant relative or long lost friend. It could also involve being kind to someone you don’t like, which might be more of a challenge. Someone once told me that they had tried to fast from complaining for Lent. Another option could be to try not to moan, as long as you didn’t complain about it!
Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and penance. Let’s just focus on that first one, prayer. How does one pray more? ‘I’m too busy’, someone might say. A simple prayer is to thank God for one blessing every day. This needn’t take long, just a few moments. It might be an unexpected kindness, a smile, a word of encouragement, a beautiful piece of music or even a sunset! I have found a good opportunity for this is while travelling. Perhaps you could try it out on your commute to or from work?
Here’s another easy thing you could try out. It is generally advisable to arrive five minutes before a train or bus leaves, so why not try and arrive for Mass five minutes early? It would give the opportunity to wind down and prepare well for Mass. Additionally it wouldn’t involve too much extra effort, as you would be coming to Mass already. The Mass is the ‘source and summit’ of the Christian life. And the day of the Lord is special, so it would be well worth that extra small effort, so why not give it a try! Whatever you decide to give up or do, I hope this Lent is a happy, holy and fruitful time for you.