Yes, it is that time again. Ash Wednesday is a week away and I am contemplating what I am going to undertake as a resolution for my Lenten adventure this year. As opposed to New Year's resolutions, resolutions for Lent are always in my opinion more spiritually and personally more rewarding than making resolutions based on the calendar year. Lenten resolutions call all of us Catholic believers to remember to sacrifice in order to prepare us for the great celebration of Christ's triumph over death and our own participation in the Paschal Mystery through our own Baptism into the Catholic faith.
My maternal grandmother made Lenten resolutions that always involved giving up foods that she fond of, namely cookies, candies, cakes and chocolates. "Giving up," something for Lent is a common notion of Lenten sacrifice, however the act of giving up something might indeed have some vanity attached to the idea. I embrace the idea of engaging in an activity during Lent that involves not just the sacrifice of some foods and confectioner's delights, but also activities that deepen my appreciation of pray. A daily rosary with the intentions directed for the poor and hungry is a good idea. Perhaps a resolution to attend daily Mass is another admirable intention for Lent. Volunteering in a food pantry or assisting in a soup kitchen is indeed very laudable. This Lent I think should be accompanied with both prayer, personal sacrifice and community service. Sharing the faith with others is more than just engaging in solely personal spiritual activities and personal sacrifices of food and drink. A commitment of service to those that need our acts of charity and time are most rewarding and most likely the best opportunities to experience Jesus in the faces and eyes of those that are suffering and most in need of God's love and grace. I have often thought it is unfortunate that the poor only receive meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas as part of organized efforts to feed those that are hungry. What happens for the other 363 days of the year when those that are less fortunate need to satisfy their physical hunger? While hunger is a physical condition related to our human needs to sustain our lives, spiritual hunger can be just as acutely serious and personally destructive. This Lent, perhaps it is time for all of us to recognize the face of Christ in everyone we meet and greet in our daily encounters of everyday life. Yes we can pray more, sacrifice more and attend more Mass' and contribute more in the collection basket. But we can also make a very positive difference in the world by showing our Catholic faith during Lent by reaching our to those that we consider marginalized and spending time listening to their needs, having a conversation with them, feeding both their bodies and their souls with temporal food and spiritual contributions that recognize the dignity of all peoples that are intrinsically to all human life. Lent is not meant to be a period of gloom and penance,it is intended as a reflective period of spiritual reflection and action. Gathering together as a global family of faith, Lent is the time for Catholics to live their faith as well as pragmatically practice their beliefs in some tangible manner. Ash Wednesday presents us with the opportunity to both pray and put our beliefs into action.