Hooray! It’s Lent! I love this time of year. For one thing, spring is coming! This afternoon there were birds flying around and singing on my street, and daffodil shoots are showing where there are bare patches in the snow. Before we know it there will be crocuses and tulips and forget-me-nots and lilacs and roses, even. The snow is still falling but we all know what’s true about spring… you can’t hold it back!
The other great thing about Lent is Lent itself. It’s such a great time for getting close to God. I like to think of Lenten disciplines as a chance to clean out the clutter. You know how good it feels when you get a closet all cleaned out, and you can find things in it again? That’s Lent!
Some years I’ve taken Lent seriously, and other years I’ve let it slide. When Easter comes around I find it feels a lot better if I’ve had the kind of Lent with lots of letting go of unnecessary things, and bringing in some good new things.
The three disciplines of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Here’s a suggestion for prayer: have a set time each day, even if it’s just five minutes, to be quiet with God. Just open your hands and heart and let God in. Bask in the presence of the One who loves you. God will be basking in your presence, too!
Here’s another thought: pray with others. Come to Mass more often, or join in Lectio Divina, or join us for morning prayer at St Joe’s on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30 am. There’s a wonderful energy when we pray together.
Lent is a great time to do some spiritual reading, too. Pick a book and make it yours. Mark it up, write to God in the margins. (Um, if it’s your own, that is!) I’ll add a list of some good books at the end of the bulletin – maybe one of them will speak to you.
Lenten fasts can take lots of different forms. Besides fasting from sugar or coffee or meat or snacks or whatever, one can fast from complaining – or from buying extra things – or from negative thoughts. If there’s someone who particularly drives you crazy, spend some time praying for them each day in Lent. Ask God to give them a great day! I find praying like that helps me to be softer with people I find difficult.
Lastly, almsgiving. Find some ways to give beyond what you normally do. Maybe set some money aside each day. Skip buying coffee and give that money away. Be generous! Let it be a generous, giving Lent.
The point is not spiritual calisthenics. The point is getting close to God! There’s a very old prayer: “Who are you, O God? And who am I?” Find out a bit more about yourself and about this God that’s so crazy about us all, this Lent.
One way to do a little giving this March and April is to join us at St Joe’s on Friday nights for a fish fry. Our friend and brother, Joseph Moore, is trying to stay in this country. He came here about twenty years ago from Liberia. His asylum petition was recently denied, and it’s going to be expensive to appeal. But we want to do everything we can to help him, so on the Fridays of Lent we’ll have a fish fry. $8 per person, no one turned away; eat in or take out. We’re hoping to have music some of these Fridays – stay tuned! A flier is attached – you are welcome to print it out and hang it up, anywhere you think people might be interested.
And remember to save Thursday, March 24 if you’d like to join us for a 5:30 pot-luck and 7pm Mass.
Blessings and love to all, Chava
Here are some suggestions for spiritual reading this Lent – just some books I’ve liked and want to recommend:
**** The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne ***** is one of the most electrifying books I’ve read. Read Shane and get all excited about changing the world!
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor has some lovely reflective pieces and would be good to read either alone, or with others – you could talk about one chapter at a time. Read her on suffering –
Another book that would be great for a Small Christian Community to read together is The World as it Should Be: Living Authentically in the Here-and Now Kingdom of God by Gregory Pierce
My Life With the Saints by James Martin is a good read. And if you like saints, Robert Ellsberg’s All Saints is excellent.
If you like something structured, Joyce Rupp’s book, Open the Door, has prayers and things for each day for six weeks. I got a lot out of that book.
Lastly, just about anything by Richard Rohr, Anne Lamott or Robert Wicks will take you deeper and enrich your Lent.
Our Wednesday morning Spanish-practice breakfasts will start up again on March 16.
have a blessed week, and come visit us some Sunday!
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14603