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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the life of a Priest: Lent Begins

Shrove Tuesday!  Traditionally, in preparation for Lent, people used to go to confession on this day – the word “shrove” actually comes from the word “shrive” which means to confess one’s sins to a priest and be forgiven.  Also traditional is the making of pancakes.  This originally came about because people wanted to get rid of their luxury foods such as flour, eggs, milk, butter and sugar in preparation for the Lenten fast, and pancakes were the result.  Fr Simon and I attempted to make some – I don’t think we’ll be giving up our day jobs!  At least they were edible… just!

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.  Apart from Mass in the parish, I also celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Peace Junior School.  Lent is a time of preparation.  A bit like when athletes physically prepare for an event, we as Christians need to prepare spiritually in order to grow in our faith (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  We do this by three primary means: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  By being more devoted to our prayer life, we are able to spend more quality time with God, and to open our hearts and minds to what He may want to say to us over this special time.  Fasting, whether it be from food or from something else such as TV, helps us to become more like Jesus in denying ourselves at times, and also frees up more time and money for the actual prayer and almsgiving.  Finally, through almsgiving (such as giving to charity, for example) we really put our faith into action by reaching out to those in need.  In this way, prayer, fasting and almsgiving work powerfully together and help us to be more open to Jesus and to what He wants to do in and through us in our daily lives.  By journeying though Lent in this way, we prepare to commit ourselves anew to our baptismal promises at Easter.