Penitential Practices Proper to Lent

Lent is a part of our Liturgical year set aside for penance.  There is a lot out there about the Rules for Lent  and Archbishop Chaput did a video on practices proper to Lent.

FASTING–giving up some good in order to gain spiritually


All persons 14 yrs of age or older are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.   NOT by replacing it with Lobster or other treat.  Going meatless is supposed to be a penance.

All persons age 18 or older but not yet 59 yrs old are bound to fast by limiting ourselves to a single meal and two snacks that do not add up to a full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

A person can fast from other goods, and on other days if they choose to do so. One year I fasted from drinking soft drinks.

PRAYER— coming to know the Lord

Minimally: add some good devotional to your day.  Examples of this can be reading a short passage from the Bible or praying a Rosary.  Some people use Lent as a good time to begin a practice of prayer or Bible reading that they intend to make a permanent part of their lives.

People add daily Mass, time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, or one of the many other patterns of prayer common in the Church such as the Liturgy of the Hours.  One might add something small, like a brief prayer on waking, or an examination of conscience before bed.

I’ve added a novena, reading a book with a group and the Total Consecration– all of which can be found in other recent blog posts.  I chose these because I can do them at home, by myself, through the computer and with the restrictions I have due to nurturing a newborn and a toddler.

Prayer is an essential component in the vocation of every Christian.

ALMSGIVING— voluntarily giving something that is yours to the poor

The money saved through fasting and abstinence given to help feed the poor.  You can also give up something you usually spend money to do and give this money to the poor instead.

This is a practice I am still struggling to make a natural part of my life.  It isn’t that I don’t give but that I am not yet happy with the pattern of giving in my life.  I feel as though I have not yet found the best way for me to fulfill this obligation.

It is voluntary, not coerced in any way, to give alms to the poor.  This practice increases virtue in the person who participates in almsgiving.

One thing I DO know. Voting for persons who will work to raise taxes and give that money to government programs that oppress the poor and trap them into living off handouts contrary to their human dignity is NOT almsgiving because it is coerced.  I want REAL almsgiving in my life where I voluntarily choose to donate in ways that will help the poor without violating their human dignity.


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