Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent is about Penance and coming closer to God, not just about doing good deeds !

Penance, Prayer and Almsgiving for Lent as prescribed by the Church.  

There seems to be an attitude creeping into Lent in some parts here in Ireland, where we are almost encouraged not to give up things, but to do good things instead.  I would disagree entirely with this (unless of course you were unable to do penance by giving up certain foods for health reasons or age).  We as Christians are always called to do good things at Lent and at every other time of the Year.  Lent is a time of Penance and Prayer.  My grandparents as did many others of their generation fasted a great deal during Lent and were very strict about it and they were farmers and in those days, all of the work was manual and very hard.  So not only did they fast from certain foods during Lent, they also worked very hard in the fields and farmyards all day.  We can really be quite selfish and lazy about it these days.  

Also I heard mentioned at Mass this morning, about people giving up certain foods at Lent just to lose weight.  If you do that, you are on a diet, you are not participating in a Lenten fast.  Your Lenten fast means nothing.  To give up foods for Lent means to practice penance and come closer to God and empathise with those who are suffering throughout the world.  Perhaps we can remember those in Syria or those who are now going hungry in many countries (even Western ones) throughout the world.  We are privileged to have so much food available to us and we can also give thanks to God during Lent for all the good things He has given to us.  

Words on Lent
Saint Cyril of
Jerusalem (313-350), Bishop of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church
Catechesis before baptism, no.1, 1.5 

Lent leads to baptism on Easter night for the forgiveness of sins

[“Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”] Now you who are about to be baptized are already disciples of the New Covenant and participators in Christ's mysteries have already made yourselves “a new heart and a new spirit” to the joy of the inhabitants of heaven... You have set out on a good, a most beautiful journey...: the only Son of God is all ready to redeem you. “Come, all you who struggle beneath the weight of the burden,” he says, “and I will give you rest.” You who are weighed down and afflicted by your sins, held in the bonds of your faults, listen to the prophet: “Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes” that the choir of angels may cry out to you: “Happy those whose faults are taken away, whose sins are covered!”...

This is the time for confession. Confess the sins you have committed in word or deed, by day or by night. Confess during this “favorable time” and on “the day of salvation”; receive heaven's treasure... Rid yourself from all human preoccupations; attend to your soul... Leave the present behind and put your faith in the future...: “Be still, and know that I am God”... Purify your heart that you may receive even greater grace: forgiveness of sins is given equally to all but participation in the Holy Spirit is granted to each one according to the measure of their faith. If you give yourself little trouble, you will receive little. If you work hard, your reward will be great...If you have a grudge against anyone, forgive. You are coming to the baptistery to receive the forgiveness of your sins: you too must be indulgent towards sinners. 

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