But let me say this, because I think it’s really important: get ready for Lent. Call an assembly. Prepare a fast. This year, may we Lent like we have never Lented before.
I never before thought of “Lent” as a verb. But I think that is a very accurate concept. We are called to action—to fast, to give alms, and to pray. We have one more week to prepare for Lent. Are we going to be ready for action?
We can enhance our contemplative life with spiritual reading. I offered a few ideas here. Pope Benedict encouraged us to discover power of fasting. Fasting brings us in solidarity with those who do not share our blessings of abundance. This solidarity should then urge us to share our blessings with those around us.
In these difficult economic times, there can be a tendency to withdraw. We become protective and tight-fisted with our possessions. But this hoarding leads to more anxiety and very little peace of mind. Where does our true treasure lie?
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Mt6:19-21)
The more we feel our worldly goods are causing us to worry the more we need to detach ourselves from them. Giving to others even when we feel insecure about our own material well-being is a source of such detachment.
I know your local food pantry can use some help. Our parish has a food collection every month. I found that I was just grabbing a can or two out of the pantry on collection Sunday. I have now started to be more deliberate in my giving. When I make a major grocery shopping run, I include items for the food pantry on my list. I try to put together a bag that will be the foundation for several meals. Making my shopping for the food pantry more intentional also brings me more in solidarity with those I am helping. As I pull cans of Chunky soup off the shelf I try to remember to pray for their eventual recipients. They are not vague entities. They are real people with real hungers, both physical and spiritual.
Being pro-life means being so much more than being anti-abortion. The women who choose life and their children need your help. Your local crisis pregnancy center or home for unwed mothers could really use your support. The Sisters of Life is an order of women religious who are both contemplative and active in the upholding of the sanctity of life. They are a growing order that could use your financial gift. The Paul Stefan home is an amazing pro-life home for those involved in crisis pregnancies. Share your treasure with this ministry of love.
There are so many worthy ministries that depend on our generosity. Catholic Culture is an invaluable web resource that I turn to often. Like public radio and public television, the good folks at Catholic Culture depend on donations to use modern communications technology to bring the Gospel message to the world. The Apostolate for Family Consecration offers a multitude of resources for building our domestic churches. Help them evangelize our culture by evangelizing families.
I mentioned the Sisters of Life, but there are many religious orders that need our prayers and our alms. Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, the Nashville Dominicans, Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker and Apostles of the Interior Life are all faithful servants of the Church .
Back in elementary school we learned that a verb is an action word. Beginning Ash Wednesday: I Lent, you Lent, and he Lents. Let us respond to the call to prepare with active prayer, fasting, and alms giving.