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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What Are You Doing for Lent?

It's Shrove Tuesday and time to think about how you will observe Lent well. The next six weeks are Catholics' annual boot camp to get in shape for more zealous activity as a members of the Church Militant. Here are some suggestions. The first is to use the Liturgy of the Hours. Ever since I began saying morning and evening prayer about six weeks ago. I've found myself more filled with hope than I have been in a long time. Despite the miserable state of the world, praying with Holy Mother Church, especially the psalms, is like a booster shot of hope. You cannot praise God twice a day and recognize His authority and His sovereignty over the earth, without realizing of how little consequence the rebellion is. To be fearful and filled with despair is silly -- like being terrified by a huge anthill in the garden. No matter what evil the devil plans, he is nothing but a little garter snake. Yes, he can inspire great evil, but God will always being greater good from Satan's puny plans. Try Liturgy of the Hours for a few weeks and see if your hope and trust in God increase, as mine has.

Another suggestion
 is the 90 day Bible reading challenge. Lent isn't long enough to finish the entire challenge, but it could give you a good start. And if you take St. Jerome's admonition seriously, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ," then Bible reading should be an important part of your spiritual program, not just during Lent but all year.

Of course, the three focus areas of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, so doing some serious penance should be part of the plan as well as giving alms. To me, almsgiving isn't just money (although I think that sharing our material goods is important), but actually doing for others. How about volunteering at a soup kitchen or a crisis pregnancy center, or some other charity that serves the poor directly. Christ House in Alexandria is always looking for volunteers and, wherever you live, I'm sure there is a similar service group that could use your help.

May you have a fruitful Lent and build up lots of spiritual muscle during the next six weeks.

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