Question: After attending our parish retreat and feeling much better and stronger about my faith, I want to make this Lent worthwhile. What can I do to keep the spirit and practice of Lent?
Answer: You’ve already taken the first step by going on the parish retreat. It is important for us to “tune up” our faith, taking some time to renew ourselves through prayer, meditation and education. By deepening our knowledge and understanding of faith, we are often better attuned to its richness and meaning for our life.
Lent is an intense retreat, a forty-day period of reflection and penance that prepares us to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Our communication with God and our awareness of him is the purpose of prayer. Setting aside extra time each day helps intensify the season. Prayer includes daily Mass, Stations of the Cross, communal penance services and private confession. Making restitution for sin as well as disciplining our hearts and minds to focus on God is the purpose of penance. It helps us restore a sense of balance to our souls, thrown off kilter by sin. Penance includes personal sacrifice, self-denial, fasting, almsgiving and charitable works.
Finally, spiritual practices help us sharpen our understanding and insight into the meaning and understanding of our faith. When you take your faith seriously, you do what is necessary to follow Jesus more closely, to integrate your life and your faith more carefully.
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