Lent – Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving

by | Feb 11, 2024 | 0 comments

     On Wednesday, February 14, Catholics and many Christian denominations throughout the world will celebrate the beginning of Lent. This day is called Ash Wednesday. The following is stated at Catholic.org: “Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel.’”

     I have always understood Lent to be a period of time that is devoted to Jesus Christ, where we as Christians focus on three areas. These areas are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer can take place each day of Lent and as many times as one wants throughout each day. Prayer is a dialogue with God. Prayer can be asking God for forgiveness for a sin that you committed, or it can be a prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for all of the blessings in your life. Since there are so many things you can talk to God about, there are so many different prayers one can say. These prayers can be both formal and informal. Prayer is also sitting in silence listening to what God is saying to you. The three things I have learned about communicating with God through prayer are that God has answered all of my prayers, I have not always gotten some answers from God right away, and some answers that God has given me may not have always been the ones that I was looking for.

     Fasting is done on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and other Fridays throughout Lent. You can fast from any number of things each day during Lent. The goal is to fast so that it draws you closer to Jesus to have a more intimate relationship with Him. One example can be that you abstain from certain foods. Abstaining from certain foods to help stay healthy is not only helping your body stay in good shape, but by taking care of your body in such a way, you are thanking God for the gift of your body that was given to you by God. Our bodies are gifts from God. Also, when we fast during Lent, we are imitating Jesus Christ when He fasted in the desert for forty days and was tempted by the devil before He began His public ministry. In turn, this helps each one of us enter into a more personal relationship with Jesus.

     Almsgiving can take place any day during Lent. According to USCCB.org, almsgiving is defined as follows: “During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on ‘almsgiving,’ which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following about almsgiving: “2462 Giving alms to the poor is a witness to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” Some of us may not know what to do in terms of reaching out and helping others in need. In order to help you with this, I would recommend reading Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus tells His disciples exactly what they can do to help others. For even more ideas, visit PlannedActsofKindness.com or peruse this site YourWillBeDone.life.

     Beginning on Ash Wednesday, I hope that you enjoy your Lenten journey in such a way that you grow closer to Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving!