Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving
I am writing this “Corner” in the early afternoon on Monday before the visit to our Parish of the Centenary Pilgrim Image (statue) of Our Lady of Fatima. This being the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions by Our Lady, as well as the Archangel who preceded the appearance of the Blessed Virgin. The messages given by Our Lady at Fatima, over a six-month period, beginning on May 13, 1917, fit ever so perfectly into the exhortation’s we receive in the Scripture, Gospels, and in our Liturgy during… the Season of Lent. The Church’s tri-part, 40-day lesson for our Lenten experience is basically a call to Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, which so often is interpreted as simply saying our prayers, giving up something we like and giving alms/money to the church and to the poor. The “keyword” here is “Sacrifice”. During the Capital Campaign for our new Church project, we embraced a mantra (a guiding slogan) stating that what was most important in contributing to the ‘ Campaign, was a striving for “Equal Sacrifice…not Equal Giving”. And that, “Sacrifice”, is really the crux of our Lenten disciplines. The thing that gives them value (or not) is the degree of, the element of, Sacrifice that is involved.
Today (Monday) as I write this, the opening prayer for today’s Mass was: “O God, who have taught us: to chasten our bodies for the healing of our souls, enable us, we pray, to abstain from all sins, and strengthen our hearts to carry out Your loving commands.” Certainly, chastening, or disciplining our innate bodily desires, no matter what human sense is involved, has merit. However, the degree of difficulty, which increases the value of the sacrifice, is what…not only increases the value to God…but what increases the benefit for our journey to holiness; our expected journey to saintliness.
Mary’s constant teaching for the three Fatima children (and through them to all of us) was to embrace ;the concept of making sacrifices, especially for poor sinners. Mary made it very clear that our sacrifices…offered up for poor sinners… (those who were still alive in this world) were of the utmost importance. She said that so many souls were going to hell because no one was offering sacrifices on their behalf. The Fatima children took this to heart, and were constantly looking for opportunities to make sacrifices for those sinners. I would contend that our Lenten Season is the perfect time to get into the habit of doing just that, along with saying a Rosary every day …as Mary has pleaded with us to do…apparition after apparition. Not just once a week or whenever we can work it in….but to pray the Rosary every day.
Those two commitments, if not already in your Lenten action plan, would bring you great graces and hopefully imbed those virtuous habits into your everyday life, going forward from Lent. One last suggestion, if not already committed to, plan to attend the Eucharistic Congress. If it will be difficult for you to work it in, your good fortune. Here is an opportunity for one of those efficacious sacrifices our Lady has requested. Plan now to go with some friends and experience a wonderful Lenten infusion of faith.
Yours in Christ Jesus,