Lent is a season for change and growth. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when Catholics will receive ashes on their heads. The season concludes on Wednesday, April 13th. The 40 days of Lent are a reminder of Jesus of Nazareth and his withdrawal into the desert for forty days, when he dies on the cross, and is an anticipation of the great feast of Easter. For the faithful, Lent is a time to change and grow closer to God.
The 40-day period is called Lent after an “old English word meaning ‘lengthen'” since the time of daylight is gradually getting longer as we approach summer.
As Lent begins, the vestments of the priests who preside at Mass will now be purple, and Catholics in the past were required to practice fasting and abstinence during these forty days. Now the Lenten fast days for Catholic adults in good health age 18 to 59 are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Catholics age 14 and older are asked to abstain from eating meat on Lenten Fridays.
Typically, during Lent, we give up candy and sometimes desserts and alcohol too. Young children would so eagerly search for their candy baskets on Easter Sunday morning, since they had gone without candy for 40 days.
Now however, some people focus on doing something new, taking up a new hobby, a charity, a good deed, like helping a neighbor or elderly grandparent, doing more tasks and chores at home, and for children, spending more play time with a sibling.
Change and Grow in Lent
The concept of “change and grow” is a time to “turn away” from our sinful ways and turns toward God, focusing on making worthwhile changes in our lives that will lead to our continual growth in prayer, charity, love of God and service to and with others.
Imagine taking a daily walk as a Lenten practice. Not only will you be in better physical shape, but the quiet walk might help you notice a new flower, a bird, clouds in the sky, an elderly neighbor you never noticed.
Trading in some TV time to volunteer at a local charitable organization such as a food pantry, making meals for Seniors, helping at a literacy program for those unable to read might lead to real change in our lives, not only noticing but working with and helping others in need.
Christ Has No Hands But Ours
There is an old saying, “Christ has no hands but ours.” During a bombing riad by Allied Forces in World War II a statue of Jesus was hit. The head, arms, and other parts of the statue of Jesus were blown off.
After the war was over, the German people came out and attempted to find the pieces of statue and begin the repair. Under the rubble they found the head of Jesus and other pieces but the arms of Jesus that were on the statue could not be found.
The people decided to place a plaque with the surviving parts of the statue and part of the saying reads “I have no hands but yours to do my work today.”
The words on the plaque continue. “I have no feet but your feet to lead men on the way. I have no tongue but your tongue to tell men how I died. I have no help but your help to lead them to my side.”
This Lent consider putting into action the words on this plaque. There are many ideas on the Daylesford Abbey website, https://daylesford.org/norbertines/daylesford-abbeys-new-website/
Lent at Daylesford Abbey
Praying with the Norbertine priests for morning prayer, and midday and evening prayer too, is an option as is celebrating Mass with them on weekdays and Sundays.
Another option is going on a retreat at Daylesford Abbey or arranging to bring a group to the abbey for a Lenten group retreat. Walking and praying the outdoor Stations of the Cross is especially appropriate during your Lenten journey, as we remember and reflect on Jesus’s journey to his cross.
Volunteering in the Daylesford Abbey Outreach Ministry is an action-oriented way to be the “hands of Jesus.” Bringing non-perishable food each Sunday to their Mass helps support St. Gabriel’s Food Cupboard, http://www.hungercoalition.org/food-pantries/st-gabriel-food-cupboard-0
Helping the Norbertine priests with the Bethesda Project, https://www.bethesdaproject.org/ both in collecting and delivering casseroles each month and with a special collection throughout Lent and Holy Week.