Lent is fast upon us.
It is a time of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Our Lord instructing
the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 6) told us how to behave.
“1 (But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see
them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 2
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in
the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to
you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your
left hand know what your right is doing, 4 so that your almsgiving may be
secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in
the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I
say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your
inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father
who sees in secret will repay you. 7 In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like
them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 “This is how
you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your
kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. 11 Give us today our
daily bread; 12 and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; 13 and do
not subject us to the ﬁnal test, but deliver us from the evil one.
16 “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their
appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to
you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head
and wash your face, 18 so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to
your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay
It is also a time when we journey with our brothers and sisters in the Rite of Christian
Initiation for Adults as they prepare for reception into the Church. It is a time designated
as Puriﬁcation and Enlightenment. It is a time when we prepare our hearts and minds to
renew our Baptismal vows. And so, we ﬁnd something to give up, which helps us to
remember this journey of faith, and perhaps stretches us in our obedience to Christ.
At our last local Lay Canossian meeting here in Sacramento, an idea began to take
form that would be something for us to do as a community during Lent. Here is a brief
recounting of how that idea come about.
As Lent was approaching, Patrick was pondering what he could do for a personal
sacriﬁce. The idea came to him while driving, and he and Amy discussed it on the way
to Mass one Sunday morning. They agreed that it was a good idea. It covers 2 of the
main activities of Lent, fasting & almsgiving.
Once a week, Patrick and Amy go out to have a nice dinner. So for Lent, the idea was to
forgo the dinner, and set aside the money for almsgiving. One suggestion is to create a
Lenten piggy bank. During Lent, you could place the money in the piggy bank, and at
the end of Lent count it up and write a check to whomever. Originally, Patrick was
thinking about donating the money to the Catholic Appeal, but another destination for
the money soon presented itself.
Every summer, we Northern California Lay Canossians hold a retreat at Christ the King
Retreat Center in Fair Oaks, Ca. It is a time of learning , prayer, self-reﬂection, the
renewal of promises, and the reception of new members. We are housed, fed, and offered
full access to the Center. But, it is not free. This year the price has been increased to
$200.00 per person. It would be unfortunate if someone would be unable to attend due
to the price. At our February local Lay Canossian meeting at the Cathedral of the
Blessed Sacrament, it was suggested by Brenda Adams that perhaps a Scholarship
Fund could be created to help with the expense of the retreat.
So, the idea is to use the money set aside during Lent to assist those who need it to
attend our annual summer retreat. It would be a way to support our brothers and sisters,
and thereby create an even greater sense of solidarity. And, it would be a way to fulﬁll
our mandate to minister to those in need even when we don’t know who they are, and
give in secret.
Of course, almsgiving is not a seasonal activity, and we should always be alert as to
how God would want to use our resources for the beneﬁt of all. But, this is a special
time, and a special opportunity to show our love for others within our own community.
However you plan to practice your faith this Lent, this could be a wonderful way to
contribute to the spiritual growth of our charism. May our gift of almsgiving, prayer, and
fasting begin at the foot of the cross, and spread to the whole world.
Continuing our dialogue, we’ve concluded it’s not just about what we will give up during Lent, but begs the question, what will you also DO this Lent that helps our brothers and sisters know we love them? Join the conversation in the comments section! Blessed journey!