Many times, around the beginning of Lent, the questions people ask me are usually about the rules for fasting and abstinence. For Catholics in the United States, the rules are as follows: Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. The special Paschal fast, as well as abstinence, are prescribed for Good Friday and encouraged for Holy Saturday.
Now that we have established that, I’d like to invite you to go beyond merely fasting and abstaining. Let us not forget about the two other pillars of Lent: prayer and charity/almsgiving. Because of the pandemic, we may be limited on what we can do outside the house. However, it also gives us an opportunity to be creative in adopting a new Lenten tradition with families and friends. Here are just some ideas:
Donate money to Catholic Relief Services through their Rice Bowl. Get a Rice Bowl box from the parish or make one yourself from the website. The website also has other ideas for Lent.
Pray for the end of abortion with daily special intentions and reflections from 40 Days for Life.
Pray for the end of the death penalty with daily special intentions and reflections from Catholic Mobilizing Network.
Pray and take action for our migrant brothers and sisters .
Create a place in your home for prayer. Use symbols of the season: a Bible, a wooden cross, rosary, prayer books, sand, rocks, ashes, desert plants, signs that say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will turn,” or other religious items that have some meaning for you or your family.
If you are willing, share photos of this prayer space electronically with the whole parish by sending a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will include your picture in our weekly slideshow online and at mass.
Have a blessed Lent,
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