Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving
As we look ahead to the beginning of Lent this coming Wednesday, the Pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – come back into focus.
Whether it's your first encounter with the Pillars of Lent or your fiftieth, there are always questions surrounding them. Why are we called to practice prayer, fasting, and almsgiving at Lent? In today's context, are they truly necessary or are they antiquated rules? Do we really have to do Fish Fridays and give up chocolate? Is the way we pray supposed to different during Lent? What are alms, anyway?
Before answering these questions we must first learn or be reminded of the purpose of the Pillars of Lent: to help us grow in true Christian faith, hope, and love.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving over the course of Lent help open our hearts even more to God's will. Through them, we are called to give of ourselves to God and to others, and unite our human sacrifices to the Perfect Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. But our hearts must first be emptied of fear and doubt.
Ash Wednesday Mass provides the perfect opportunity for us to take our heavy hearts to the altar and offer them up to the Lord so that, unburdened, our Lenten journey ends with us standing at the entrance to the tomb ready to greet the Risen Lord at Easter and joyfully receive Him into our hearts.
And so, this Sunday and again on Ash Wednesday, let's unite in prayer at the table of the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us not only through preparing ourselves this week for Lent, but also all the way through this fruitful, healing, and beautiful season of preparation.