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Prayer, fasting, almsgiving during Lent give us chances to grow as Christians

Dear Friends,

The week before Ash Wednesday, we had an all-staff spiritual formation opportunity. Monsignor Paul Koetter shared reflections about Lent. During our time with Father Paul, he invited us to recall ways in which the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding Lent has evolved during the last 50 years. 

This recollection led us to reflect on discipline and the value of discipline. We recalled and shared rules that we had in our households during youth and childhood. The beauty of a discipline, such as being allowed a soft drink during only one night of the week, is that it can nudge us to control our self-centered impulses, to think of and reach out to others more often, and to appreciate a good pleasure more by experiencing it less often.

During Lent, the Church encourages us to grow in the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Father Paul shared concrete examples of these three Lenten disciplines that can help us reach beyond ourselves as Jesus did during his life and death on the cross. Here is an example in each category that I found interesting: 

  • Prayer: Ask yourself three questions at the end of the day. What happened today for which I am thankful? Do I need to tell God I’m sorry for anything today? For whom do I want to pray?
  •  Fasting: Skip an “eating out” evening each week and donate the saved money to charity. If you have children, allow the children to pick the charity.
  • Almsgiving: Reach out to a family member(s) you do not see or communicate with on a regular basis. 

 Lent and Easter summarize the combined beauty of suffering and hope. While we practice our disciplines during the next 40 days, may we experience them as opportunities to reach out to others more often as Jesus did and to grow in hope and appreciation of the gifts in our lives that are all around us. 

Peace and blessings to you and yours, 

Joe Therber