1st Sunday of Lent


Dear Friends,

It was so gratifying to see hundreds of people receiving ashes during the four services in our church and to see hundreds more at the drive-thru ash ministry in our parking lot. That is an excellent sign of the human longing to turn to God. The reception of ashes is the first step to follow God’s ways. But, any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is building on sand. That’s why the gospel for Ash Wednesday is worth reflecting over again. Please read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. Jesus is teaching us: Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure that we are committed to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

In this context, a challenging question for all of us is: how do we make Lent a spiritual success so that we can be more happy? For making any project or goal a success, we all need some motivation. For Lent, the motivation is the awareness that we can be better persons, that we can go beyond our present unhappy state of mind and experience true peace and joy if only we are willing to make some changes in our lives. Keeping this motivation in mind, here are 10 suggestions or ideas to make Lent a successful holy season:

1.  Read the Bible…. (a chapter a day?)
2. Attend Mass Daily (or watch it on our YouTube channel before going to bed)…
3. Go to Eucharistic Adoration. … (6-8 pm on Mondays in our church)
4. Complete a Work of Mercy. … (visiting a critically ill person, bringing food for that family)
5.  Pray the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet… (can be done easily in car)
6.  Put Together a List of People to Pray for. … (especially those you know personally)
7. Make a Mini-Pilgrimage….(visit a nearby church or shrine like the Blue Army)
8. Do Spiritual Reading daily …. ((life of a saint or writings of Pope Francis)
9. Make simple sacrifices (give up an item of food, drinks, practice patience)
10. Pray the Stations of the Cross (privately or at 7 pm in our church on Lenten Fridays)

Here’s a prayer we can pray: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, loving you more, loving my family and friends more, especially reaching out to those who I am not so fond of. Therefore Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life. Give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love, practicing a Lenten program of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and to live in true fellowship with those around me. Amen.

Have a happy and holy Lent.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal