Ok, maybe people don’t think such thoughts, but this priest is not normal. I love lent. Every year I experience God’s grace in this special time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I do have to get myself geared up to give up my favorites (sugar, sugar and did I say sugar?). The reward Jesus gives every year is always there. I know He gives it to you too because I see it. I love seeing God giving you those graces. I only hope you have the eyes to see it too.
When I give things up, I always have a peace in my soul that I have never experienced in any other way. My mind always gets more and more clear as lent progresses. The sacrifices almost seem like a joy by the time I get to Palm Sunday. Praying seems lighter to me during this time. I find it easier to practice the virtues. I have more patience, joy, peace and I feel more humbled. This is where my abnormality comes in; it just feels right.
Fasting gives us these gifts, and lent is a special time for fasting. Choose your fasting well. As a suggestion, have a base to work from. Choose something that you feel you can do. Giving up meat on Fridays is a must during lent. What can you give up on Wednesdays? Maybe butter, salt, coffee, chocolate, video games, movies, tv, internet, Facebook or Twitter. You can also choose to do something positive like adding prayers, adoration, going to Tuesday evening Mass, weekly confessions, Stations of the Cross, Rosary, Chaplet at 3pm, giving more to charities, giving more in the collection, helping out at St Vincent de Paul, doing an extra chore in the house, visiting the care centers, hugging your mom or dad, or letting the person behind you go ahead of you at the store. Maybe you have in mind something not listed. You can choose any amount of these things and even determine how. One you may give up every day of the week, whereas another fasting may be one day of the week.
Always have something you know would be easy for you to do and then some other things that will be more challenging, but not unreasonable. For those who really like a challenge, I know many men in the US are doing the Exodus 90 fasting. This form of fasting can help with addictions or more serious troubles in life. It looks like something hard to do and it is for 90 days, not 40. So, if you start, you would get done by Ascension Thursday. If you are up to it, then give it a try. But even then, you can still determine the specifics. Here is the website to find out more: https://exodus90.com/. They offer groups for support.
Also, take advantage of all the events going on this Lent. Keep inviting your neighbors and those who no longer come to Mass. Let them know they are always welcome. Be with them on their journey if they are open to it. No need to be pushy, just persistent and loving. Come to the One-Day parish mission on Sunday the 17th of March. Make a decision to follow Jesus the way we are all called to, even if it is just for lent. You may not be able to do it to expectations, but it will stretch you and make you grow into the person of goodness God has planned for you. Come also to the Light of the World Retreat. It will be a life-changing event. Isn’t that what Lent is all about? Isn’t lent supposed to change our lives by coming closer to Jesus? I look forward to it!