Unbelievably, today is Ash Wednesday. In just a few hours, the hunger pangs will start to set in as we observe the first of two fasting days this year. Masses today will undoubtedly be crowed by the faithful looking to mark the beginning of this penitential and fruitful season.
Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that many fast food chains have started to market heavily their fish options. I think it's pretty funny that they cater to us every time this year. It also shows the remarkable market strength Christians have when we band together.
The question on everyone's mind, including mine, is how can we grow this Lent? Over the past two weeks, I've been promoting my most recent book, "Grant Us Peace," as one possible aid in your Lenten journey. Although it is a 21 day retreat, as opposed to the full 40 days of Lent, I wrote it specifically for times like these. It seems that around Ash Wednesday each year, many Catholics recognize how far they are from the spiritual life that they wish they had and are eager to hit the restart button. If that sounds like you, "Grant Us Peace" is the right book for you now.
What's perhaps even better than the newness that Lent brings is how excited the clergy gets. It's wonderful when priests dramatically increase the frequency and prevalence of liturgies and devotionals. Stations of the Cross are offered weekly, a few extra daily Masses are added to the schedule, some very early in the morning and others at night. This is really great because it caters to members of the parish who wish they could participate more actively in the daily life of the Church, but their work schedule precludes them from doing so. Your parish might even have a speaker series or a mission happen during Lent and, of course, there will be a penance service. The penance service is awesome because you really feel comfortable confessing your worst sins to a priest that you'll likely never see again.
As we start this 40 day journey, I want you to take a good look at the full schedule at your parish and find some ways to more actively participate with you and your family, especially in the Easter Triduum. These liturgies are sublime and, when you really get into them, are not at all boring or old fashioned. They are beautiful expressions of faith that allow us to better understand how sin effects the entire Church.
This Lent, find ways at home to enrich your family's spiritual life. Be reflective, be resolute, and immerse yourself in this season. Read the Sunday readings together on Saturday, pray a rosary together, or even just start praying together in the evening. Do something and make it a priority.
Lent is a beautiful opportunity for a grand spiritual restart. Don't wait until Holy Week to start yours.