After His baptism, Jesus went into the desert where he prayed and fasted for 40 days and spent this time in silence. At the end, he was tempted three times by the devil. Check out the full details in the readings for the First Sunday of Lent. This part of Jesus’ life serves as a prototype of Lent.
You may have heard about a little day called Ash Wednesday – and if you haven’t you’ll be reminded of it because many of your neighbors and business associates will have a black smudge on their foreheads. A little Catholic info: Churches burn the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday mass and priests use these ashes to apply a cross on our forehead. Ashes have often been associated with sorrow, purification, and rebirth. On this day we step into Lent to allow these 40 days to cleanse us. And there is more… Lent reminds us to persevere and also remain steady with our prayer, and almsgiving (a fancy word for charity and helping others) in order to become stronger during the temptations that come across our earthly path.
But let’s face it; Lent isn’t what it used to be. It has lost much of its power to strike fear into those who ignore it. It really is quite anemic. And for many, it’s almost invisible. So I want us to #MakeLentGreatAgain2017 – not because I want to “strike fear in us”, but because I think Lent can be a potent 40-day self-help path to a better me. You don’t have to go to a spa, mountain retreat or a hot yoga class. (It’s o.k. if you want to, but not necessary.)
This Lent, I want to help you during your 40-day journey with a three-step formula: Hang with God (aka pray), Discipline myself (aka fasting and sacrifice), and Help others (aka almsgiving, charity, & serving). It may get difficult to keep up – because let’s face it, we’re human. So during these 40 days, check in on my Twitter channel daily for some words of encouragement, tips on how to #MakeLentGreatAgain2017, and daily reflections on the day’s reading. Each day I will offer tips on how you can Hang with God, Discipline Yourself and Help Others, because Lent should be about prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving. Jesus may have been alone during those 40 days in the desert – but we don’t have to be. We’re stronger together – even virtually, so let’s count on each other to #MakeLentGreatAgain2017!
Click here for Ash Wednesday Readings.
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, …
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them….
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites….
Reflection on Verse Above
This is the NOT the Lent God asks of us:
- Inner circle tables at charity banquets;
- Long-winded, loud, arm raised televised prayers;
- Sullen somber attention-drawing sacrificing.
Rather, THIS is the Lent God asks of us:
- Stealth charity;
- Quiet prayer;
- Good-spirited fasting & sacrifice