Lenten Letter #1

I had my first Lenten letter all typed out and ready to go. However, God had other plans for this first letter. Since, I’m trying to be a better follower of Christ, I will listen to what He wants to convey. I have to admit, I did NOT write this myself as the main idea was taken from my daily reading of The Word Among Us.

Lent is a 40 day season of reflection and preparation before Easter. As Christians, we replicate Jesus’ sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Often times Christians abnegate, or do something extra for God during Lent. This year, let’s approach our abnegation from a different direction by turning our fasts into feasts. Think about how you can replace negative behaviors with acts of love and kindness.

Let’s look at a few examples:

A fast from gossip. Gossiping is an act of injustice because we are, in a sense, stealing the reputation of another person. This can also be the case even if what we say turns out to be true.

Instead of gossiping, you could feast on silence and discretion.

A fast from criticism. Constructive criticism can help us to grow, but when it’s not constructive, it tears people down and strikes at their dignity and self-image.

Instead of criticizing, you could feast on affirming people.

A fast from complaining. When we complain, we end up feeling only more unhappy and discontented. It also has an effect on the people around us, bringing them down and contributing to a negative atmosphere in our homes or workplaces.

Instead of complaining, you could feast on counting your blessings and sharing them.

A fast from grudges. When we hold a grudge against someone, we are keeping that person captive to the wound they have caused us. We are also holding ourselves prisoners to feelings that harden our hearts over time. Instead of holding grudges, you could feast on forgiveness.

Remember, you don’t have to do any of this alone. Just as God promised to answer his people’s cries for help, so will he answer you (Isaiah 58:9). Trust that this Lent, he will give you all the grace you need to fast—and to feast!

“Lord, help me to treat other people as you would—with justice.”

The Word Among Us magazine offers daily meditations based on the Mass readings of the Catholic Church, inspirational essays, stories of the saints and more! Each issue of the print edition of the devotional is currently read by more than 550,000 people world-wide. We also offer digital editions for Apple iOS, Google Android and Amazon Newsstand of The Word Among Us.

4 Things About Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is literally marked on the forehead of observant Christians. To start off the Lenten journey, I have gathered a few misconceptions and things I was not aware of earlier in my Catholic Faith Journey.

imagesAsh Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is literally marked on the forehead of observant Christians. During Lent, the Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

To start off the Lenten journey,  I have gathered a few misconceptions and things I was not aware of earlier in my Catholic Faith Journey.

Is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation  All Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday in order to begin the Lenten season with the proper attitude and reflection, Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation.

It’s A Day of Fasting  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Unlike fasting in some religions, which require abstaining from all food and drink during fast dates, Catholics are permitted to eat one full meal and two smaller meals. Read here for the differences between abstinence and fasting.

Where does the Church get the Ashes? Ashes are from the Palm branches of the previous Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ return to Jerusalem when he was greeted by crowds waving palm branches. The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are burned palm branches mixed with holy water or oil. 

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You MUST keep the Ashes on ALL day  Wearing ashes throughout the day on Ash Wednesday helps us remember why we received them in the first place. Those who feel uncomfortable wearing their ashes outside of church, or if they get in the way of your daily duties, should not worry about removing them. Also, if your ashes naturally fall off, or if you accidentally rub them off, there is no need to be concerned.

 I do not claim to be nor am I a Catholic Expert . I am your average Catholic exploring the Faith and sharing things I have learned throughout my journey. I’ve included links to help you read explore into each subject and beyond. If you have further questions regarding the Church, I highly recommend you talk to a Priest, Deacon or other person of authority and proper training. 

Have a Blessed Lent! 

-Adrienne