Ash Wednesday: Pray, Fast, Give

We have before us the wonderful season of Lent, which is an excellent opportunity to be mindful of the traditional Church practices of prayer, fasting and giving to the poor. In preparation for the season, we offer this short reflection on the three ways in which Lent allows us to get closer to God, ourselves and others.

Don't wait for the fancy words to come, or the right atmosphere, or the right time. Do it now. Call upon God from your heart. Let the words flow. Unburden your heart, clear your mind, lighten your soul, sing joyful words of praise or cry tears of pain. Whatever and wherever you are, God is there waiting. Pray often, pray from the heart and always remember the bigness of God whose mercy is endless. 

Giving up meat on Fridays unites us with our brothers and sisters worldwide in a universal, powerful solidarity and prayer. Be mindful of what you eat and don't eat. Give up something you like for a greater good. Make yourself stronger by naming and owning your weaknesses and doing everything in your power to take control of them. Name the demons of your life and rid yourself of them. If you give something up for Lent, however small, make the meaning behind it powerful, worthy and real.

Making giving, praying and fasting daily practices in small ways adds up to a mighty sum over the 40 days of Lent. A few coins or a dollar a day put aside and given to a worthy cause is an excellent way to remember God's poor. Giving money to persons on the street who beg is a practice that is noble. Not judging but giving from the heart is the spirit of Lent. Donating food, your time, your talents, your labor—all make for wonderful ways to give from your heart, filling and replacing what you give away with joy. 

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