Why are prayer, fasting and almsgiving especially important during Lent?
Prayer: Without prayer, fasting and almsgiving are merely actions we do out of tradition without much meaning. Prayer is our conversation with God. It is through prayer that we find the strength to fast. It is through prayer that we develop a closer, more intimate relationship with God. This relationship makes us so grateful for the blessings he has bestowed upon us, that we eagerly give to those less fortunate than us. The Church, in its wisdom, understands that prayer is essential to any action we Christians may undertake.
Fasting: Fasting is one of the most ancient actions linked to Lent. Fasting rules have changed through the ages, but throughout Church history fasting has been considered sacred. The prophet Isaiah insists that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. Therefore, the goal of fasting is linked with prayer. The pangs of hunger remind us of our hunger for God, and prayer and fasting together brings us to what Lent is about — a deeper conversion.
Almsgiving: It should be obvious by now, that almsgiving is simply a response by us to God, a response that we have come to through prayer and fasting. It is an expression of our gratitude for all that God has given us, and a realization that in the Body of Christ, it is never just “me and God.” Through prayer and fasting we come to a deeper understanding that the needs of all are the responsibility of all in the Body of Christ. Works of charity and the promotion of justice are integral elements of the Christian way of life we began when we were baptized.
We invite you to join us our Lenten Journey with John of the Cross. Each day of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, we will provide the Gospel of the day along with a brief extract taken from the works of John of the Cross, a reflection and, finally, a prayer.