by Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM
Director of the Office of Consecrated Life
Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Homes, Diocese of Phoenix
Today’s popular culture often teaches us that we should put ourselves first. As Catholics, Lent is a gift that offers us a time to put our wants and needs aside and focus on drawing closer to the Lord. During these 40 days of introspection, contrition and sacrifice, we can grow stronger in our faith. By imitating Christ’s life, we grow in virtue.
One way we can do this is through fasting. Practicing Catholics already know to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. Another way to make a symbolic sacrifice is through fasting. Though not required by Church doctrine (except on Good Friday), reducing our meals during Lent helps us work toward purification through self-denial. This act reflects the sacrifices Jesus made in suffering and dying for us. Through His Resurrection, He triumphed over evil. Fasting can be a wonderful way for us to combat the evil that is present in our own lives.
Through almsgiving, we also can draw closer to God during Lent. Being charitable to others helps us look beyond ourselves, whether we give of our financial resources, our time or our talents. By helping those in need, we are acting in faith and giving freely of our love, as the Lord does with us.
Perhaps most importantly, Lent is a time to focus on prayer. Though prayer is important throughout the year, Lent provides us with the opportunity to take more time for prayer than we normally would. By attending Stations of the Cross, which are held at three Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Home locations, along with local parishes, we can contemplate the Passion of Christ. This intimate time of prayer can help us experience this aspect of Christ’s life and gain a greater appreciation of His complete love for us all, which is demonstrated in the suffering He endured so we all may live.
As Catholics, let us use the 40 days of Lent as a time of retreat during which we can deepen in our faith and spirituality. In doing so, we prepare ourselves to fully experience Holy Week and ultimately celebrate the joy of Easter.
God bless you and your loved ones during this sacred season.