Throughout our lives, we receive many invitations: to birthday parties and weddings, to theatre and opera, to special family meals and celebrations. What invitations do is to offer a chance to participate in an event. It’s an offer, it’s not an obligation, and each type of invitation has particular ways of participating that are traditional or expected by the others who are attending the same event.
Today is a special day for many people in the Christian world: It’s the beginning of Lent. God is inviting us to participate in this season of reflection, repentance, and renewal—not only for ourselves but for the whole Christian community, for the entire human race, for all of creation. The particular ways of participating in Lent are:
1-to deepen our relationship with God through prayer;
2-to improve the world by taking something out of it (fasting), and
3-to improve the world by putting something into it (almsgiving).
For prayer, we might give time to reading and praying with Scripture, or attend Mass during the week as well as on Sundays, or make a retreat. For improving the world by taking something out of it, a good example is litter. We can promise to refrain from dropping paper or wrappers on the ground, or we could go even further and don protective gloves and pick up litter along the street when we’re out for a walk. One point of “giving something up” is to devote ourselves to making the world a better place. We can give up impatience, or angry responses, or negative thoughts….. these behaviours are hurtful and giving them up makes the world a better place. For improving the world by putting something into it, the traditional approach is to give money to the poor. However, many people don’t have any extra money this year. What we all can give is a smile, a compliment, kindness in many forms.
Look at your life and decide how you will deepen your relationship with God in prayer. See what you actually can take out and put into the world and be faithful to the practices you choose all through Lent. That’s how we accept God’s invitation to participate
Sr. Madeleine Gregg, fcJ