Prayer, fasting and alms giving can seem daunting to us as we begin our 40 days of Lent. And how does it feel right about now? Have you lost sight of your original intentions? Fr. Dave once told us to ‘give things up mindfully, not mindlessly.’ Those words have stuck with me all these years later and, from time to time, I attempt to change things up from the usual routine.
Prayer, for me, is the easy part. “Pray without ceasing,” St. Paul instructs us in 1 Thes 5.16. Perhaps it is because I love solitude that I find this an easy practice. While driving my lengthy commute, walking, running even, I pray, rejoicing always and giving thanks. It is an enjoyable practice that can easily become a habit.
I once read that we must be careful of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Fasting immediately came to mind. If I fast, is it to save money on food that can then be given to the Knights’ 40 Cans for 40 Days project, or am I depriving myself of food and secretly hoping to lose those pounds that have hung on since Christmas? There are numerous ways I can think of to fast, with no ulterior motive. We can fast from judging others; fast from anger, from complaining, and fast from gossip.
Alms giving is not necessarily a monetary thing. We all have too much stuff in our possession. We can purge those things we hoard, and give them to those who can make good use of them. Safe ‘N Sound, downtown, is always in need of clothing – which they give away to those who come to them for help. They have a constant need for towels too, as they provide showers for the homeless. If you save those little bottles of body wash and shampoos provided by hotels and motels, they could certainly use those for their participants. And because they help people set up apartment living, they can use pots and pans and other household items. Give from your own abundance
Prayer, fasting and alms giving can be accomplished in numerous ways. When we are mindful and grateful for the gifts we have been given, and when we are mindful of others’ needs and concerns, our Lenten journey will not be mindless drudgery, but fruitful and joy-filled.