In Pope Francis’ 2019 Lenten Message the Holy Father stated: “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion”. This precipitated my need for some serious introspection on the significance of the 40-day holy season preceding Easter.
Lent has in the past always been marked by fasting, prayer and almsgiving. “Give it up” and“offer it to the poor”, I was always told. I realize that during these 40 days this may be the accepted practice for some, but I started thinking that for some in today’s society, the reality of‘going without’ for these 40 days may actually be their daily norm. Some Catholics may give up certain foods and perhaps restaurant visits, trips, personal indulgences, etc., for the 40 days of Lent, while in fact today a great majority of people cannot even afford these things at all. Their plight is not an easy one, with many individuals and families struggling to survive. Throughout the doldrums of long winter days, we often do not even know what our neighbors could be struggling with, financially or otherwise. One thing we do know as we age, is that everyone has a cross to bear – we just may not be privy to the harshness of the details.
Perhaps it is time that we as Catholics take some extra responsibility during this Lenten season for even a small portion of the plight of others. If we have decided to give up dining out, or not to eat steak or go to the movies for instance, then it may be an idea to take the penance a step further by offering the funds saved and giving them to a homeless person, a shelter, or someone in need.
Is this not essentially what we do when we give to the Equestrian Order? We are giving to those whose Lenten fast lasts much longer than 40 days, whose ‘going without’ is a reality of each day of their lives.
We are blessed to live in Canada where many if required, can ask the government for financial assistance. The needy in the Holy Land do not have the same possibilities.
This Lenten season if you feel so inclined and are able, feel free to donate an extra bit to the Order when the Spring Appeal arrives in your mailbox, because every dollar helps those who sincerely need it, such as a pregnant mother, a baby in hospital, a students’ future, which are all very worthy causes. Pope Francis went further in his address stating: “Let us stand beside ourbrothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”. Let us adhereto the Holy Father’s appeal.
Wishing you all a very meaningful, peaceful and spiritual Lenten Season.Debra Gervasio