Lent starts this week with Ash Wednesday for our preparation for Easter, so how will we prepare?
We have our required practices of fasting and abstinence. The manner in which we are obligated to do this is as follows (in case you forgot):
Ash Wednesday (Wednesday March 1, 2017) and Good Friday (April 14, 2017) are days of abstinence for all Catholics over the age of 14. On these two days, fast, as well as abstinence, is also obligatory for those from the ages of 18 -59. (for some reason I keep thinking they are going to raise the upper limit before I get to it, kind of like social security and retirement ages) Abstinence means refraining from meat. Fast means one full meal a day, with two smaller meals and nothing between meals (liquids are permitted). No Catholic will lightly excuse himself or herself from this obligation.
All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from meat. Here again Catholics will not hold themselves lightly excused, but if there is a serious health problem, this obligation would not apply.
In addition to this though we hopefully will consider something else that might help us grow in our faith over Lent. One option is a daily time for reflection or prayer such as with the “Word Among us” booklets available in church this weekend that along with the daily readings and Mass parts has daily meditations. Another means is through Dynamic Catholic that has a service called “Best Lent Ever” which e-mails you a reflection and short video clip each day. Or you might go to the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org/prayerand-worship/liturgical-year/lent/prayer-resources-for-lent.cfm (or just go to www.usccb.org and look for lent) and find a variety of options.
This isn’t our first Lent. There are many opportunities to not just live out our obligation, but to see it as it should be, an opportunity to prepare for Easter and to prepare to receive all that Christ offers us.