Ash Wednesday already! And we get to celebrate Lent for a second time during this Pandemic. This time knowing what I know and have experienced, I think I have to look at Lent with different eyes.
I think that each time Lent rolls around, we can go into auto-pilot and do the same things we always do: give up something, perhaps go to Mass during the week, participate in Rice Bowl or some other charitable organization. We know the drill: fast, pray, and almsgiving. But what does Lent 2021 hold in store for you and me?
I think there is great opportunity here to be creative and envision a Lent filled with Gratitude. This past year we definitely have not been operating on auto-pilot! There have been so many changes that have caused many of us to move out of our comfort zones. I think we may have to agree that more than usual, complaining and negativity have been experienced during this past year. Why not look at fasting, praying, and almsgiving in a different, creative way? We are all quite capable of this, although it may take a little time to reflect on the ideas.
Here are a few things I have personally been thinking about:
I need to broaden my circle of prayer to include all those in Government who are responsible for making the rules while trying to keep all safe. For all those caretakers who spend so many hours away from their own families to help others. For all those who have been so generous in supporting nurses, doctors, EMS workers, police, and firefighters by giving them food. For the researchers who continue to develop vaccines to help end this pandemic. For those who are alone and continue to worry about what will happen to them.
We can fast from being selfish, especially when we buy more than we need thus leaving others with out. Fast from being critical when leaders ask us to keep masks on and social distance. To do these things knowing we are helping others. Fast from being just grouchy! There has to be something in your day you are grateful for. Fast from being unkind to someone we don’t particularly like. Fast from negative talk – no one wants to spend time with a negative Nellie or Nathan. Fast from looking at what you don’t have, and concentrate on what you do!
Giving of alms can mean different things. It may be easy to put money in the collection basket if you are present at Mass, but if you don’t attend church, do you mail in your envelope? If money is tight in your family, you can do errands for some elderly folks who can’t get out. In some areas, shoveling snow for a neighbor could be worth a million dollars! Time is money, so spending time caring for someone or calling shut-ins amounts to a lot.
All the things that I’ve mentioned are really things that we should be doing even if we weren’t experiencing a pandemic. How responsible am I in building up in trust this Kingdom of God? Pandemic or not, there is a lot to be grateful for and appreciated. What will your Lent 2021 look like? I pray you challenge yourself, move out of your comfort zone, and live this Lent to the fullest.
Till next week,