A few days ago I read the message of Pope Francis for Lent this year, which begins today. Christians now have 40 days ahead of us to prepare for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. How luck we are to be reminded that we are in a life that will pass!
And how will we prepare? I will tell you something that we have done in my family for a very long time. Many of my children and I decided that we will give up chocolate and offer up this small, but great, sacrifice. Remember, in my family, we LOVE chocolate. When the kids realize that Lent is coming up they always say, “Let’s take the opportunity to eat chocolate now and empty the pantry, since we won’t be able to for 40 days…” We are so lucky that we have the support of each other, because sometimes it’s very difficult to go to a party and see that amazing chocolate cake. If someone gives us chocolate during Lent, we keep it and then on Easter Sunday we have a big celebration, always with lots of chocolate.
I explain to my children that Lent is a time of prayer. They see me praying at home and in the church and often times they pray with me. Some are quite young, but I teach them that they can tell Jesus anything—the smallest or the biggest problems: if they have gotten into a fight with their friend and they don’t want anything to do with them, or if they are so excited for the party that they have been invited to—they can tell Him everything.
Lent is also a time for almsgiving, to be generous with your money, even if you have very little savings. They can be generous with their time, how they can dedicate some time to explaining something to a friend who might not understand it in school. Or even giving your time to an NGO. Time to listen to friends who are going through difficulties or are lonely…
And finally, Lent is a time for fasting. Some might wonder what that means. Fasting is eating less and even going a little bit hungry. As Pope Francis said, “Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
When someone feels hunger but decides not to eat and offers it as a sacrifice, they learn how to master their body. Some daughters of mine love to fast, maybe because it helps them lose weight. And also because they are somewhat boastful… During these days we also try to eat less of what we like and more of what we do not like.
You can also do a fast from Instagram, spending less time in front of the computer and on your mobile phone. We can use this time to spend with our siblings or our friends. At home, I have to set a schedule for my Instagram account, so that I might always give priority to my family and the moments we are together.
This year, the beginning of Lent coincides with Valentines Day, on February 14th, the patron Saint of lovers. This day has become quite materialistic, but it is still a good occasion to show affection to your spouse or your boyfriend/girlfriend. Who doesn’t like to receive a gift or a small act of love, even if it’s something as simple as flowers?
This post was originally published on comoserfelizconunodostreshijos.com on February 14th, 2018