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The Happy Priest on Getting Ready for Lent

Lent requires preparation and full participation

Lent provides us an opportunity to open our personal maintenance schedule and take a close look at ourselves as we journey towards eternal life.


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Every car or truck carries in the glove compartment a maintenance schedule. Having your oil changed, your tires rotated and balanced, and the rest of the engine checked keeps your vehicle in excellent shape.

This Ash Wednesday, we begin one of the most practical times of the Catholic liturgical year. Lent provides us an opportunity to open our personal maintenance schedule and take a close look at ourselves as we journey towards eternal life.

The spiritual life is not an easy endeavor because of our wounded human nature. True, Baptism washes away original sin, but we do not have complete control over ourselves. St. Paul brilliantly describes this continual battle. He portrays this conflict as an inward struggle (Romans 7: 14-25), a treasure in a vessel of clay (2 Corinthians 4: 7-18), and a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).

Because of original sin, an inner force will always move us in the wrong direction. Continual effort is necessary to control the inner movement of our ego, and allow the presence of grace to take control of our thoughts, desires and actions. The battle of the spiritual life is like walking in a river against the current. If we do not continue to walk or grab on to a rock, the current will carry us in the opposite direction. Lent provides us with an excellent opportunity to strengthen ourselves so that we can keep walking against the current.

A successful Lent requires us to develop a serious plan of action. Our program should consist of both the general practices that the Catholic Church requires of everyone, and our own particular Lenten program.

As a general practice for all Catholics, the Church requires that we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We are also asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.

Aside from what the Church law of fast and abstinence requires of us, we should come up with a personal program for spiritual growth. This is our personal maintenance program. I have always recommended that we come up with something negative and something positive.

By something negative, I mean that each person should commit themselves to giving up something or a number of things. This sacrifice should be serious and demanding. The self-control that we exercise in giving up a legitimate pleasure strengthens our will and curbs the inclinations of our passions.

By something positive, I mean that each one should also do some kind of act that we would not normally do on a regular basis. Attending daily Mass, visiting the sick, volunteering time at the parish or praying a Sunday evening Rosary with the entire family are positive acts of virtue that have helped many people progress in their relationship with God.

Lenten practices of penance have great benefits for our spiritual lives. A serious Lent will be like a spring cleaning which will purify the clutter that has accumulated in our souls. A serious commitment to penance will also help us to conquer addictions, obsessions and compulsive behavior. A serious Lent will purify our soul and allow us to experience a deeper interior freedom.

As we approach the beginning of another Lent, we should carefully examine our lives. Usually we focus on carefully examining our sins, but do we ever consider the sins of omission? Do we honestly consider what we are not doing?

One way to break the cycle of apathy is to bring into your Lent an apostolic dimension. This can be done by making two firm commitments: pray the Rosary at your local abortion clinic and target one person that does not have a church home. Invite that person to your parish.

Moreover, it would be very powerful if we would offer up our fast, abstinence, Lenten sacrifices and our weekly Stations of the Cross to the Lord as of way of ending abortion and bringing souls back to the Church.

Do not wait until Ash Wednesday to come up with your Lenten program. Decide today what you are going to do. Parents should sit down with their children and make sure that they too have come up with a serious plan of action. Have a family meeting tonight and decide together to make this Lent the best Lent ever. Meet as a family every Sunday during Lent and review your program. Be accountable to each other. If you make this a great Lent you will notice the difference on Easter Sunday.

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Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Father James is known for his orthodoxy, his unconditional obedience to the Pope, his delicate fidelity to all liturgical norms, his love for real sacred music, his well prepared homilies, and his unwavering pro-life stand. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

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Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.

Keywords: Lent, forty days, fasting, prayer, spiritual housecleaning, Fr James Farfaglia



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1 - 10 of 13 Comments

  1. mary oganga
    4 years ago

    This is a very helpful website. Thank you very much

  2. GREGORY W HOLT
    4 years ago

    I am a 47 year old RCIA member this is a very special lent season for me

  3. A Kentucky Family
    5 years ago

    We were raised Baptist. Something as of late has drawn us to the Catholic beliefs. It was living in a home that had spirits of the evil side of life living amongst it. We endured it all for 12 years. We knew in our hearts if we called upon a Baptist preacher, they would say we were under conviction or unsved.

    We decided to call upon the Catholic Preists at our local Catholic Church. They never looked at us as if we were crazy, as matter of fact, they seemed to understand, more than anyone else could have. This led us to start attending Saturday evening Mass and has made us look closer at Catholicism as our own chosen path. One lead to us from God Himself. This website is a lovely tool for us as beginners learning about the path we have chosen. Thank you for having it available.

  4. leona
    5 years ago

    This site has really helped me to be able to explain the religion to my daughter. Thanks.

  5. Miguel Kohl
    5 years ago

    I really like this site and all that it provides thank you. Have a bless day.

  6. Jules
    5 years ago

    Thank you for the kinds words and great guidance for this Lent period. May the good Lord keep you and give you peace.

  7. Patience Chika Eweama
    5 years ago

    father, you are really touching lives with your words of wisdom, may God continue to provide you with the graces needed to do his works. i gained alot in your article.

    thanks

    patience

  8. OMOREGIE OSA JUDE Dr
    5 years ago

    Father I want to especially thank you for your write up on preparing for Lent.May the blood of the crucified Christ wash away our Sins and bring us to a fuller appreciation of the Love God has for Us Amen

  9. Debbie
    5 years ago

    Father, you have layed out a good plan with many examples. Lent was always just giving someting up for me in the past. Doing a positive act is a great idea. Thank you for your guidance. God bless and keep you safe.

  10. Mike
    5 years ago

    Father, Your guidance lays a good plan for all of us to follow and catch a stride in God's Holy walk during this lent and after. God Bless!


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