“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God,” states #2559 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). In Lent we are called to more prayer, along with fasting and almsgiving. These practices are meant to help us put our hearts in order to experience the joy of Easter.
We are preparing to bring new people into the Body of Christ at the Easter Vigil through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). At the same time, we are preparing for a renewal of the baptismal promises which most of us made when we were infants. St Paul, in his letter to the Romans, tells us that “when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might have new life.” This “new life” is what we are preparing for during Lent. We spend 40 days in prayer to prepare for the new life God has waiting for us, through the power of Christ’s Resurrection. We have not always lived out our baptismal promises well, but God is a God of many chances.
Just as Jesus faced severe temptations, we too face temptation. As we prepare to recommit our lives to God, what better way to do so than to imitate Jesus who prayed all the time and taught us to do the same (Luke 18:1-9). Without prayer, fasting and almsgiving will be just Lenten ‘things’ we do because of tradition. Prayer is our conversation with God. Prayer gives us the strength to fast and helps us to develop an intimate relationship with God. As this happens, we begin to recognise how merciful God has been to us, how much He has blessed us. This gratitude makes us eager to share what we have with everyone.
As Christians, prayer is a necessary part of anything we do.
Each time He was tempted, Jesus responded using the word of God. During Lent, the Church asks us to listen in a deeper way to the word of God, through silent listening, as we seek to find out what God is asking of us. The gift of Lent offers us an opportunity to add to our prayer life and to be more faithful to our daily prayer. Mother Church is not asking us to do anything new yet we struggle to ‘find time’ to pray.
Lent reminds us, as the calypsonian sang, to “get back to basics”. Here are a few ways to spend some extra time with the Lord during Lent:
- Regularly attend Sunday Mass. Jesus prayed in the synagogue with the community. There is nothing more important than being in God’s house for the Sunday liturgy. (Luke 22/1Cor 11: 24-25)
- Daily Mass. This will help us to appreciate Easter much more.
- Daily Bible Reading – the daily readings for Lent provide us with passages that help us to look again at our lives as we journey towards the renewal of our baptismal vows.
- The Daily Office connects us with many others of the faith around the world.
- Eucharistic Adoration .
- Attend the Stations of the Cross, your parish Lenten Retreat, Vespers and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- Sing praises.
Pope Francis recently said “In Lent you have to fight” and he encouraged us to keep our eyes on Easter. “Pray (so) we can hear the voice of Jesus and correct the many defects that we all have,” he said.
– Myrtle Spencer, RCIA Catechist, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando