Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care
On Wednesday, we begin the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we should return to the Lord, our God, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. I had a conversation the other day with some friends about the foods we give up for Lent. The practice of not eating meat on Fridays is a way of denying ourselves for many people. But, what if I am a vegetarian? How am I denying myself something as a penitential practice, if I already don’t eat meat? When I consider what to give up for Lent, I want it to be something that truly affects my day to day life, reminding me to return to the Lord. I also consider what I might take on for Lent. What new practice can I participate in that brings me closer to God?
For quite a few years, our family gave up going out to eat for Lent. Whether it was a quick trip to McDonald’s or a sit-down meal at Cracker Barrel, we did not do that for the six weeks of Lent. In addition to this fast, we set aside the amount we would have spent to give as a special offering to a particular cause or need for others. The denial of the meal gave us the reminder to focus on God; the giving of the offering gave others a benefit from our work.
As you consider your Lenten practices, which generally include prayer, fasting, and charity, think about how your personal practices could have an impact on others. At Felician Village, we will be collecting items for the Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive from February 11 to March 3. If you give up going to the coffee shop or buying lunch, maybe set aside that money for a purchase each week of items for the hygiene drive. Say a prayer for those who will receive the items. Prayer, fasting, and charity can happen all at once.