Lenten Practices Strengthen Spiritual Muscles

Adding extra prayer to our day, performing extra sacrifices and giving up meat on Fridays, and doing charitable works during Lent—these are some of the practices for which Catholics are known. These are called the Three Pillars of Lent - Prayer, penance, and alms-giving. The Catholic Church asks us to do these things each year so that we can become newer and better people at the end of Lent. Through these works the Catholic Church helps us to remember each year that we are followers of Jesus.

 Prayer

We know the importance of prayer in our lives and it is especially important during Lent. Lent is when we can ask ourselves: “What needs changing?” Do we have bad habits we want to get rid of? What can we do to become a better person? We start by adding prayer to our days during Lent.

Penance

We make special efforts to make amends for our sinfulness by doing penance. Every sin has a consequence. If we tell a lie, for example, we eventually have to tell the truth. But even if we tell the truth, trust has been broken because we lied in the first place. Penance helps to make amends for the sin of the lie.

During Lent, we do penance by giving up a favorite food, activity, or toy. We can give up watching television during Lent, or playing computer or video games, for example. The discomfort that results is offered to God as penance for our sins.

We can also do something extra as penance, too. We can say a daily Rosary, go to extra Masses, or perform extra chores as penance, too. Whatever we do, we offer to God as penance and he happily accepts our efforts.

Almsgiving

During Lent, the Church asks us to be aware of other people's needs. If we give money to charity or to the Church to help care for the poor, that is almsgiving. If we give gently used clothing or toys to charity, that is also almsgiving. Lent is also a time when we try out best to be kinder to the people around us.

Doing all of these things helps us to greet Easter as new people, changed and better than when we started the journey on Ash Wednesday!

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