A Lent Like No Other

Feb 28, 2021 | Community

Like much of this past year’s holidays and seasons, this Lent will be different. Distribution of ashes will be administered without touching our foreheads, and many are still not able to attend Mass or services in person.

Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are all still possible, and we might think of new ways to observe these signs of faith that come with Lent. After such a year of restraint, it may seem even more of a sacrifice than usual to forego treats or favorite foods, or setting aside small pleasures we give up. Pope Francis has sent loving messages to his people, reminding us that in fasting and denying personal pleasures, we embrace the experience of poverty and stand with the poor. Fasting helps us to love God and our neighbors, a movement of love turned outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them one with ourselves. In such a time when we are isolated from many friends and family members, it is still important to maintain a sense of community, connecting with others and turning our focus to deepen our relationship with Christ, rather than making material things a priority in life. We can think about expanding our circle of friends and family a bit to reach out spiritually to others through our prayers and offerings.

In troubling times things can seem fragile and uncertain, if not downright frightening, and it may seem challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is truly the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for us. We can place our hope in reconciliation, forgiveness, reaching out to others with words of comfort, strength, encouragement, and consolation. To give hope, sometimes it’s enough simply to be kind, show interest in others and their concerns, and listen to someone where often there is indifference. We have 40 days of opportunities to spend this unusual season of Lent this year, reaching others in new ways, when meeting in person is not possible, and social distance remains in place. Yet what has not changed is Christ and his love for us, and the hope we hold as we look forward to Easter.

To read Pope Francis’ Lenten message focusing on the three theological virtues  of  “renewing our faith, drawing from the living waters of hope, and receiving with open hearts the love of God visit 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-02/renewing-faith-hope-and-love-pope-francis-lenten-message.html

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