Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Using Lent is a Great Way to Appreciate the Easter Season

Today is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras which is French for Fat Tuesday. Today we feast before the fasting of lent, which starts tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Although these are traditionally considered Catholic holidays many people will be celebrating this holiday in popular places like New Orleans.

With lent coming Wednesday let's look at how we celebrate the season of lent...

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Make a Lenten calendar. Such a calendar will help you to focus on the progression of the Lenten season. Lent is 40 days long and doesn't include Sundays. It ends the Friday before Easter; count backwards from there.

Decide on your Lenten sacrifice. Your sacrifice is a reminder of the sacrifice of self Jesus made to save us from our sins. Think about all the trivial things in your life that shift your focus away from God. Do you find that you dedicate more time to sending text messages and posting status updates than to prayer and time with God? Do you have a habit of eating junk food excessively?

Take something on. While many people choose to give harmful things up for Lent, you could use the season to help you build good habits. You could promise to be more patient and kind toward your neighbor, or you could vow to help the needy. Whether you choose to sacrifice or to adopt new, strengthening habits, you should allow your Lenten promises to help you grow in faith and virtue.

Attend Mass as often as possible. In addition to weekly Sunday service, it's good to go to church frequently, especially during the Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when we remember that we come from dust and to dust we shall return. Many traditions often have an additional worship service in mid-week, and attendance at these services is a good way to participate in Lent.

Go to Reconciliation. Reconciliation, or Confession, is a wonderful way to turn away from sin and reunite yourself with Christ. If you don't already, try getting into the habit of going to Confession on a regular basis. The Catholic Church has made it obligatory that all the faithful receive the sacrament of Penance at least once a year and once during the season of Lent, though it's recommended that you attend Confession at least once a month if possible.
Spend time on devotions. Though not required, devotions are a great way to put yourself in the right mindset for Lent. The Church highly encourages Adoration of God or the veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Your local parish probably has regular Eucharistic Adoration, where you can go to sit and engage in deep prayer, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. To practice veneration, you could say a decade of the Rosary daily, or pray to your patron saint.
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Fast and abstain. All Catholics aged fourteen and older are asked to abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays, though fish is allowed to be eaten. Additionally, Catholics aged 18-59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Lenten Fridays, meaning that only one full meal may be eaten in the day.

Whether or not you are Catholic, if you are a Christian, using Lent is a great way to appreciate the Easter season. 

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