It’s Prep Week! These few days before the Season of Lent begins are important to prepare ourselves for the upcoming 40 day journey.

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy he says, “I am being poured out like a libation and the time of my departure is at hand, I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  St. Paul’s letter helps us realize that we need preparation and some training so that we can run the race, or the journey, of Lent well. Being prepared makes us more likely to succeed in allowing Christ to bring new life to ourselves on the Lenten journey.

Our Church gives us this wonderful season to focus more on praying, fasting (make self-sacrifice), and giving to the poor (financially or in other ways). Below we have some tools that will hopefully help you be prepared for these 40 days. Remember – you cannot do everything and you cannot change your entire life in 40 days.  Lent is a time to have a conversion and change and grow closer to Christ. Lent can seem overwhelming, so focus on one way or one thing to change that will help you grow closer to Christ. Now is the time to put together those things you will need to prepare. Here are some tools to help you on the journey: 

  • Your Bible:  If you do not know where your Bible is or if you do not have one…find or go out and get a Bible.  God’s sacred words nourish us in so many ways. Read: St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy or St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:10-18 about the Armor of Christ.  Also make a point of reading the Sunday readings before Mass in preparation for Sunday.

  • The Little Black Books:  The parish provides a daily reflection that helps us take 10 minutes each day of Lent to grow on our journey.  Make sure you pick up one available in the narthex/gathering space.

  • As a Church we are called to pray, give alms, and fast.  Praying, giving alms, and fasting funnels our energies to exercise ourselves spiritually.  When we exercise in this way, we become stronger and better spiritually.

  • Catholics united throughout the world join in the practices of Fasting and Abstinence during Lent.  What are days of fasting and abstinence? We can all do our own acts of fasting and abstaining by giving up things.  However, below is how the Latin Catholic Church unites in fasting and abstaining;

    1. Fasting: Catholics are required to fast on only two days of the year – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  On these days, fasting means that one eats only one full meal in a day, with no food in-between meals and two other meals should not total one full meal.  Self-sacrifice leads us to graces.  Fasting applies to healthy adults ages 18-59.

    2. To abstain is to not eat meat.  Its purpose is to be an act of penance for the entire Church…an act of sacrifice.  This helps us grow in freedom to make much bigger sacrifices.  It should be noted that many people in this world cannot afford to eat meat or do not have access to it.   Part of our abstaining from meat can place us in solidarity with so many of our sisters and brothers around the world. There are other forms of sacrifice or abstaining that you may want to do in solidarity with the poor.  Abstaining applies those ages 14 and above every Friday of Lent.

    3. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting. They should, however, offer other means of making a sacrifice to join with the universal church on these days.

  • The Stations or the Cross, The Rosary, The Divine Mercy Chaplet, and many other Devotions help us not only to pray but to focus on God’s great love for us.  We have Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7:00 pm throughout Lent. This devotion provides a powerful way to unite ourselves with the passion and death of Christ.  

There are many other things that you can do either as a family or an individual.  There are some who choose to concentrate on helping the poor, others who concentrate on prayers, and still others who choose to perform acts of kindness.  Get ready and prepare yourself for a wonderful season of Lent!