Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent which culminates with the Holy Paschal Triduum at Easter.
In recent years, I have been very successful in giving up alcohol completely for the whole of Lent and also tea/coffee at my desk.
The financial gain which I make from not indulging in these normal activities, I am asked to give to charity – alms giving, which of course I will do.
This year, Pope Francis, in a pre-Lenten address emphasized the importance of doing something in Lent which will be of benefit to someone else – I ask myself what does he mean?
I can’t see how my small sacrifices as explained above will be of benefit to others.
Perhaps I will be able to give my friends more lifts in my car if I am not drinking – is that what he means?
Perhaps I will be calmer and less tired and less likely to say the wrong thing if I am simply drinking water – is that what he means?.
Perhaps I will find an opportunity to do something unexpected for a stranger or an acquaintance with whom I have little interaction – is that what he means?
Perhaps I will find a moment each day to pray for those who are completely unknown to me who suffer from effects of poverty, hunger, war, disease, oppression, loneliness, bereavement – is that what he means?
Perhaps I will find an opportunity to say sorry to someone whom I have hurt through my words or actions or was it through my silence or inaction? – is that what he means?
Perhaps I will find a way, through prayer and reflection to join my sufferings to those of our Lord Jesus Christ and find a way of accepting that my suffering is a way to be like Christ at his crucifixion so that I can emerge with Him at His resurrection – is that what he means?
Perhaps I will find a way to reach out to a fellow citizen of another faith, or of none – is that what he means?
Lent, it seems to me, is like sharing the fruits from within, of developing self, and my abstinence from an everyday habit, enables me to share myself with others – I think that is what he means, in fact, I’m sure of it!
My next blog will be: Low Orbit