Ash Wednesday I

Today’s readings [Mass for the School Children]

What are you going to do for Lent this year? Are you going to give something up? Are you going to pray more? Are you going to do something nice for someone or do something for the poor and needy? Those are the three ways that we observe Lent in our Church: we fast, we pray, and we give alms, we give to the poor.

ashwednesdayWhy do we do these things for Lent? We do them because Jesus gave his life for us. We do them because we have sinned and have broken the relationship between God and us. We do them because God loves us, and we want to love God and others more. Lent is a time when we can change our hearts and change our lives and become more like the people God made us to be in the first place.

So one of the things we are asked to do during Lent is to pray more. Maybe you can take some time to read a little bit of one of the books of the Bible every night. Or maybe you can learn a new prayer that you didn’t know. Maybe every night you can take a few minutes to thank God for the blessings he has given you that day, and to say you’re sorry for the ways that you haven’t followed him that well. When we pray more, we can grow closer to Jesus who loves us so much he gave up his life for us.

Another thing we are called to do during Lent is to fast, or give something up. Maybe we’ll give up candy, or cookies, or a television program that we like. We give things up so that we can know that we can depend on God to feed us with the things we really need.

And we are also called to do acts of charity, or almsgiving, during Lent. That might mean that we save up some money to give to Loaves and Fishes. Or maybe we can find out something that they need at Hesed house and collect that and bring it to them. Or maybe we can help a younger brother or sister with their homework. Maybe we can try to be nice to people and try to love our families more. When we do acts of charity, we can practice loving people the same way God loves us.

A long time ago now, I used to give up chocolate every year for Lent. But right before Lent one year, some of the kids in my youth group said, “Mr. Mulcahy, we hope you’re not giving up chocolate for Lent this year.” When I asked them why, they said, “because every year when you do that, you get crabby.” And see, that’s not why we give things up, or why we do anything for Lent. We do those things because God is so good to us and God loves us and we want to love God and others more like he loves us. So whatever we do for Lent, we shouldn’t be crabby about it, we should do it with joy because it is bringing us closer to God.