Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Wall Street in Ashes (Lent for Everyone)

Today is Ash Wednesday. Don't forget to go get your ashes!

Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal about Lent and how the lenten principle of disciplined self-sacrifice can be very useful even for unreligious people and for non-Christians.  You would think that such insight wouldn't be rocket science or even newsworthy, but there it is.  I am grateful all the same that a major media outlet sees the sensibility in sensible living.  And I am grateful to Erin Johnson for pointing the article out to me.

The article makes the point that little sacrifices, like a cup of latte, can add up to a lot of savings.  These little things that add up can be the key to getting out of debt and building up substantial savings.  The article doesn't go a step further: that we might give some of the fruit of that savings to the poor, thereby fulfilling another precept of Lent: almsgiving.

Don't forget, during Lent we are called by the Church to deepen our Christian living in three chief areas: prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor.  Each of our Lenten disciplines should be something that is difficult, a challenge for us, but also something that is doable.  It does no good to "blow it" three times a week.  Our disciplines should also be things that are good in themselves and also things that we are allowed to give do.  So that means no prayer routines that interfere with our real duties, and no giving up fornication for Lent, either - don't wait for Lent to give that up!  And no giving up homework, either!  It's an added bonus if our Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can all interrelate to each other somehow, and a double bonus if we retain them to some extent after Lent.

For example, one might
Prayer: Spend 10 minutes with a daily devotional;
Fast: Abstain from morning latte on the way to work, thereby saving $3 and 10 minutes for prayer;
Give to the Poor: $3/day saved from the morning latte, paid upfront early in Lent if possible, to make sure.

Doesn't sound too dramatic, does it?  Nope.  But what a change a little prayer can make in your day, and how many prayers can be answered by your leftover change!

To help you out, Busted Halo has come up with a Lent Calendar, kindova twist on an Advent Calendar, to help you "get your ash in gear."  American Catholic also has some good resources up, and has a nice article and some good resources, too.  Now seems a good time to re-embed Fr. Tim Naples' video on confession.

Lent is the time for penitence, which we Catholics know entails confession. Let's make this one a good one. But let's remember why we do it. Yesterday at the National Shrine, Msgr. Kevin Irwin preached about the need to do Lent for Jesus, and not as a score-card of holiness or as a self-help program to lose weight or save money. Those all miss the point. We are to learn humility - and that can happen in failure, too, so we shouldn't be discouraged if we accidentally eat that chocolate we gave up. We should just let it remind us how desperately we need God - if giving up chocolate is hard, how hard is resisting the devil's wiles and living in grace til the end of our days!?

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