Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent. A period of forty days in which we collectively prepare for Easter. I was unable to make it to Mass this morning and won’t be attending at St. Mary’s downtown due to a business meeting but will be heading to my home parish after work instead. I’ve experienced what Webster writes about over at Why I Am Catholic. I’ve served as an acolyte with Father B or Father J and placed the ashes on foreheads of parishioners young and old while saying “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It’s one of the most humbling things we do each year. I’ve also had Lents or Ash Wednesdays where I’ve felt distant and dry. But I can’t imagine not participating. You don’t have to “feel” something for it to “take.” Grace happens.
While I wasn’t able to indulge in posting this plethora of Lenten links below yesterday on Fat Tuesday due to other commitments I wanted to get them up today in case there are others like me who are a little behind in their preparation. Or for others who are curious about what all the hubbub is about from a Catholic point of view. In this modern age of information and resources there are a million places you can go if you are seeking out more information or aids to assist with your own study, prayers or meditations. Mine is pretty brief, but it serves as a start.
I’ll begin with three of my favorite links by a favorite author, Mike Aquilina, that help me prepare for Lent:
Next up is fasting because today is a day in which we fast. And as I’m typing this mid-morning my stomach is beginning just a slight rumble because during Lent I am giving up the daily mid-morning snack I’ve indulged too much in this year: white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.
Why We Must Fast is an excellent look at this practice.
I’ve also decided to do a fast of another kind this year, written about by Tim over at Patheos. To restore a balance to my peace of mind I’m not visiting the usual news sites I go to such as The Drudge Report, etc. and am not going to indulge in watching any news programs on Fox, CNN, etc. Now before you call me a luddite allow me to explain. Whether I watch or read or not, the news happens. I have no control over that. Getting myself worked into a lather of worry each day over things I cannot control and reported to me by entities that market news as entertainment with all its alarmist, salacious details is self-defeating. I’ve done this before a few Lents ago and it was refreshing. Much like when I go long periods of time without eating McDonald’s French fries. When you eat them regularly they taste pretty good. But go a few months without them and when you have them again you will ask yourself why on earth you put that stuff into your body.
In other words, more of the sacred and less of the secular.
Julie at Happy Catholic posted excellent reading lists for Lent, both nonfiction and fiction. I’ve read a few of her suggestions, but this year I selected Brant Pitre’s excellent book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper. I would also highly recommend Pope Benedict’s second volume in the life of Jesus, released on March 10. The first volume Jesus of Nazareth was excellent and I’ve already reserved a copy of the second book with Tim at Gloria Deo.
One of my favorite books of all-time is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I’ve written of it elsewhere and will likely do so again. Fr. Dwight Longenecker, is posting his Lenten homage to Lewis’ classic called Slupgrip Instructs. You can subscribe by RSS or by email. For far he’s posted the first five lessons. They are definitely worth a look this Lent (or anytime).
And finally, if you want even MORE resources on Lent I’ll refer you to the feast of information offered up by Aggie Catholic. FAQs, Lenten suggestions, a ton of links and more than a few videos.
Aggie Catholic includes this bit of silliness which I first watched last year. It’s not all sack cloths and ashes, right?