What Lent means to me
Tony Worner – Leader of Lay Formation
As the season of Lent begins each year, I am always reminded of the song Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season), by Pete Seeger of the Byrds. (The lyrics are based on the first eight verses of the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes.)
The period of forty days of Lent (not counting Sundays!), as well as the Church’s time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, for me, is a season (time) to take stock, to re-evaluate and reflect on what is happening in my life – my relationships with family, those around and the wider world. By actually engaging in the three traditional disciplines of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, it allows me the time and space, to become aware of those around me and my attitude to them.
The colour purple is used to denote and remind us that this is the season for reflection, a time of awareness, and a commitment to change. What is wonderful in our present day is knowing that at the end of this time we celebrate the Triduum (three days – Holy Thursday Evening with the Last Supper, Good Friday with the Passion and Death of Jesus, and the Vigil with the Resurrection of Jesus), the very heart of our belief as Christians. It is the new season of hope that comes after the season of penance. Just as the season of ‘spring’ follows the season of ‘winter’. To everything there is a season…
For a quick overview of Lent, click here and see what Busted Halo has to say about Lent in three minutes…
What does Lent mean to me?
Anne O’Brien – Director of Mission Integration
Each year when the season of Lent approaches I always think of almsgiving. As a family growing up it was a big thing for us to give as much as we could out our pocket money. I can recall working out what I could do without in order to give as much as I could.
As a school Principal I often spoke to the students about Almsgiving and explained that you give to those in need without getting anything in return. If you make a purchase at a fund raising cake stall you get a lovely cake for your money. If you buy a ticket in the Easter Egg raffle you expect to win a prize. However Almsgiving is just giving to others and getting nothing in return.
Still today I see Almsgiving as a special part of Lent – giving to others and going without something in order to help Project Compassion and in turn those in need.
Almsgiving is a charitable practice Pope Francis encourages us to participate in during Lent
Pope Francis shares two main reasons why we are encouraged to give alms. The obvious reason is to ensure we are looking after the poor in our world – so they are healthy and happy. The second reason is to help ourselves grow. By giving away what we have, we become less attached to the material world. We are encouraged to give, not from our excess, but as the widow gave in the Gospel.
Read this except from the Gospel of Mark (12:41-44). “He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’”
For many people who do not have a job, it can be difficult to know how they can “give alms”. We are encouraged by Jesus in this Gospel that even those of us who have a small amount of income can make a contribution.
Project Compassion is one way our Church encourages people to “give alms”.
What does Lent mean to me?
Sr Anne Hannigan – Pastoral Care Team Leader
It is a time to experience God’s mercy and to extend God’s mercy. It is a time to reflect on the greatest Christian act of all time, the death of one man, Jesus, for us but more especially to appreciate what his resurrection means for my, and your, life.
Lent is a time to pause –
1. To reflect:
- on our personal lives,
- on Jesus’ forty days in the desert,
- on Jesus’ suffering and death
- and especially His resurrection
2. To renew – to live our lives intentionally
3. To re-invigorate – personally our physical and spiritual lives.
Lent is traditionally a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. While we fill our lives with many activities, necessary or unnecessary, Lent is a time to slow down, to give ourselves the time to be with Jesus, talking and listening to Him so we can live more like Him. It is replicating the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for His ministry. As we continue our ministry, to be Jesus in the world, let us remain close to Him.