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Giving up — an act of love

 

Lent is coming -- a season of penitence, preparation, and reconciliation.

Catholics will give up eating meat on Fridays during Lent as part of the call for individuals and the faith community to repentance and penitence. And many Catholics are pondering: What will I give up for Lent?

For some -- Catholics and non-Catholics -- there’s some mystery about “giving up.” What is it and why do we do it?

According to www.catholic.org, a “... constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance, without which the Christian is unlikely to remain on the narrow path and be saved....” And the Catholic Church specifies certain forms of penance to help fulfill this obligation.

Fasting and abstinence are among the forms specified by the Church that help us meet the requirement of divine law to do penance, while making it easier to fulfill the obligation.

Catholics from age 14 until death are asked to abstain from eating meat on Fridays throughout the year, in honor of Christ’s Passion on Good Friday. On Fridays outside of Lent, U.S. Catholics may substitute a penitential or charitable practice of their own choosing. For many, however, refraining from eating meat is the easiest way to fulfill this obligation.

Fasting is required of Catholics ages 18 to 60, with exceptions for health reasons. Fasting, as defined by the Church, is one meal a day and two smaller meals; the two smaller, if added together, must not exceed the main meal in quantity. Fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday -- March 5 this year -- and Good Friday. Snacking between meals or drinking things that can be considered food -- such as a milkshake -- breaks the fast. Drinking alcohol is discouraged, as it is contrary to the spirit of doing penance.

Also during Lent, personal penance is encouraged.

We’ve seen the “man in the street” interviews on television: What are you giving up? People say beer, chocolate, candy, their favorite coffee, or other favorite treats.

Lent isn’t necessarily about “giving up,” however; it’s about “giving in” to God’s call to reconcile with Him and with our fellow companions on life’s journey. When we give up, we should contemplate why and what difference it’s making in our relationship with God and others.

Christ suffered for our salvation on Good Friday. We are called to suffering, in some small way, to honor and recognize that sacrifice, and to give up or sacrifice something in order to gain the greater good, the crown of glory that awaits us.

We can be creative this Lenten season in our sacrifice, our acts of penance. What will you give up, or give in to?

We can consider reducing or cutting out Facebook or TV time or time with a hobby, instead spending that time with family, friends, or someone in need, such as a homebound neighbor. Perhaps cut out indulgent spending, such as a daily luxury coffee or eating out at lunchtime, and donate the money to a parish Rice Bowl appeal or charity. Take time to read the Bible, or other faith-based work, or get up a little earlier to read a daily devotional or pray the rosary. Actively pray for someone, especially someone we may feel has wronged us.

Kids may consider being a friend to a shy person, doing chores without complaint, or cutting back on texting or phone time, writing to loved ones just to make their day, or putting away a favorite book or toy for Lent.

Whatever we choose, it’s an act of love, a small sacrifice, for the One who gave Himself for our salvation.

Make your Lenten journey with the parish of St. Ann’s. Masses are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.stannslv.org. Homilies from the weekend Masses are available as full HD audio/video on the parish website. Click on “News” on the home page and scroll down.

 
 
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