The annual observance of Lent brings a two-fold theme of repentance from sin and selfishness, thereby renewing our baptismal commitment, as well as our annual preparation for the celebration of Easter. Traditionally the Church has taught us to turn with renewed discipline and dedication to the spiritual pillars of prayer, penance, and giving.
The source and summit of all our prayer and the whole of our lives as Catholics is the Eucharist. A commitment to the Sunday celebration is bedrock to undertaking a profitable Lenten journey. This year at Nativity we will be offering what we hope is an especially helpful message series we’re calling “Needy.” It is meant to be a reflection on more healthy living, in the various ways we can and should be healthy. If you cannot join us on our Ridgely Road campus, join us on line, Sunday now at 9am as well as 10:30am and 5:30pm. If all else fails, we always post the weekend message on our web site beginning Monday afternoon: chruchnativity.tv//past messages.
Weekend worship should be accompanied by daily prayer. This can take many forms. Here at Nativity we have a daily Mass with the recitation of the Rosary preceding it. Weekly we offer Stations of the Cross and Eucharistic Adoration. Daily prayer can be undertaken anywhere however and its content is whatever works best for you. We offer a daily devotional, Worship Fully which many parishioners find helpful to get started or keep going. The tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours is also a beautiful form of prayer and if you’re unfamiliar with it I encourage you to learn more. On the other hand a simple daily Scripture reading can be of exceptional value.
Beyond personal prayer and the celebration of the Sacraments I would also include in this category
Small Group Fellowship. There members go deeper in God’s word, share their faith, and pray together. Small Groups are an unparalleled way to stay accountable for your Lenten efforts.
Penance is any positive step we take in our daily living to give “flesh” to our prayer.
Confession is the sacramental expression of this and is an important thing to do during Lent. We have an expanded schedule you can find on our website.
But we also talk about “giving something up” for Lent. Giving up meat on Fridays is the traditional penance. That should be seen as a starting point however rather than the goal. Deserts or wine might be a worthy additional penance. Or you can go another way entirely and give up some amusement. If you like you can also approach this in a more positive way and undertake some work of charity or kindness to others, or give up a bad habit you’ve been struggling with.
Like penance, giving puts our money where our mouth is when it comes to Lent. The way I look at, there are basically two ways we should be undertaking this, and we should be doing both at least from time to time.
Ministry and mission are all about personal service for others in our church family and beyond. Simple acts of kindness and good will on behalf of anyone is also welcome.
But Lenten giving means more too. Giving in our place of worship as an act of worship, to assist the work of the Church and to relieve the suffering of the poor is basic to worship and indispensable to our Lenten observance.