Cardinal Wuerl Marks the First Day of Lent
Lent provides a time dedicated to focusing on our relationship with God
February 12, 2013
Lent begins today with Catholics around the world fasting and receiving ashes on their foreheads as a symbol of penance and conversion. This 40 day penitential period leads up to Easter Sunday (March 31, 2013), the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and reminded the faithful in his homily that Lent “brings us face to face with the time-honored practice of ‘giving up’ something for the 40 days that lead to the Church’s great celebration of our redemption in the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus. Almost intuitively, we recognize our need for some sacrifice, some spiritual discipline in a world and life that moves so rapidly that we are tempted, too often, to forget our relationship to God.”
Cardinal Wuerl described the three characteristics that highlight one’s turning – or conversion – to God during Lent; prayer, almsgiving and fasting. During Lent we should try to find a little more time to talk to God and pray, he said, and also demonstrate our solidarity with those in need through almsgiving.
“Mortification that takes the form of denying ourselves some form of food or drink is one of the oldest spiritual practices of our faith. Jesus fasted.” Cardinal Wuerl continued, “Fasting actually strengthened Jesus because he was nourished instead with the word of God in prayer. This enabled him to open himself more fully to his Father’s will and show us how to do the same. He set us an example as we struggle to avoid sin, the occasion of sin, and the temptation to sin. We, too, can be strengthened in the Christian way of life through fasting.”
The fast that Catholics practice during Lent should bear fruit, the Cardinal went on to say, “If we are fasting from TV, will that offer us a little more time for prayer or more time with others in conversation and shared activity? If we are fasting from food or a favorite beverage, can we take the money saved and give, for example, to CRS Rice Bowl or the local food bank? If we are fasting in a way that is to help break a bad habit, we can take a few minutes at the end of each day to thank God for the difference fasting makes.”
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics living in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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