Entering into Lent

The readings for Ash Wednesday in the Roman Catholic Church remain the same. We listen to the prophet Joel (2:12-18), the psalmist (51:3-6b, 12-14, 17), Saint Paul (2 Cor 5:20-6:2) and the evangelist Matthew (6:1-6, 16-18) every year, so we may find ourselves wondering what new message we can hear. Perhaps the new piece should be what we do during Lent.

Lent is one time that is dedicated to “spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)” (CCC 1438). Many people focus on the fasting and only in a limited way, such as, “I’m going to give up candy for Lent.” However, we are asked to consider more ways to enter into Lent. In this Year of Mercy, perhaps we should examine the works of mercy.

The corporal works of mercy are:

  • To feed those who hunger;
  • To give drink to those who thirst;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To give shelter to the homeless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To visit prisoners;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offenses willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Perhaps during this Lent we should perform different acts of mercy and do all this in secret, only between us and the Father. This way, we can grow in charity during Lent, a charity that reflects in a tiny amount the love the Trinity has for us.

– Brother Andrew Kosmowski, S.M., Librarian, Marian Library/IMRI

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