Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pray. Fast. Give alms.

Today, Ash Wednesday, begins the season of Lent. The minister places blessed ashes on our foreheads, marking us with the sign of the cross while saying “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” This ancient Christian ritual reminds us of who we are, why we are, and what our destiny is. It’s no coincidence that Lent is observed during the season of spring — a season of warming, greening, planting, brighter sunlight overtaking the darkness, dormant bulbs awakening as crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths — new life and transformation everywhere. The season of Lent also brings about transformations, growth, and renewal in our personal lives.

Pray. Fast. Give alms. Yes, we’ve begun the season that calls us to do those three simple things — a little better than we’ve been doing them. Praying can be as simple as spending a little quiet time with God, having a chat with God. Fasting might focus on what we eat or drink, or it might mean decreasing our portions of complaints, anger, impatience, grudges. And giving alms could be as simple as sharing what we have with those who have less or don’t have.

We had a mini Mardi Gras celebration at our evening meal yesterday. The traditional Mardi Gras celebrations observed around the world encourage participants to “eat, drink, and be merry.” Quite a contrast to the coming days of Lent when we “pray, fast, and give alms.”
(Sister Paulette Seng)

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