Fr. Lara's Lines
First Sunday of Lent
When Jesus began his public ministry, he had a
clear message: “This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and
believe in the gospel.” In fact, that is the same
message we heard on Ash Wednesday, a message
of repentance and conversion. Repentance and
conversion are not easy for us to achieve. It takes
a lot of energy and discipline to really change
one’s heart. Jesus knew it and he gave us an
example to follow. Jesus goes to the desert and
remains there for forty days. He suffered in his
human nature; he was even tempted by the devil.
But he had the strength and discipline to suffer
for the sins of humankind. In the same way, these
forty days of Lent are an opportunity for us to
strengthen our spiritual life. Discipline and self-
control can be achieved when Jesus walks with us.
Let us ask Jesus to be our companion on the way
during this Lenten season.
The Church, in her great wisdom, invites us to
observe some spiritual practices during Lent:
fasting, praying, and almsgiving. These practices
can be done throughout the year, but they have
a more special meaning during the penitential
Some people might confuse fasting with dieting;
however, the purpose of fasting is completely
different. For Christians, fasting is a spiritual
practice that unites them to the fasting of Jesus in
the desert. Abstaining from certain foods is a
small sacrifice that helps us recognize who we
are as well as our dependence on God. We also
abstain from doing specific things. Just like fasting,
or abstinence from food, abstinence from other
things is a common practice during Lent. Catholics
usually talk about what they give up for Lent.
It would be easy to give up something we do not
like, but that would defeat the purpose. We
should make a small sacrifice this Lent to give up
something more significant. Sometimes a better
practice is to do something for Lent. I encourage
you to do acts of love and kindness during this
Jesus encourages us to pray without ceasing.
Prayer is the raising of the heart and the mind to
God. Prayer should be a daily activity for
Christians since through prayer we unite ourselves
to Jesus. Many parishioners who have a wonderful
prayer life. Our spiritual life is strengthened by
praying the rosary, reading the bible, attending
or watching Mass, doing devotions, or meditating
on the mysteries of our faith. This Lenten season,
I invite you to work on your prayer life. You might
want to pick up new daily prayer habits or work
on being more intentional in your prayer routine.
Quality time in prayer is more valuable than
quantity. Jesus spent forty days in the desert
praying to God the Father even when he was
tempted. Let us follow the example of Jesus this
A third Lenten practice encouraged by the Church
is almsgiving. This is a form of detachment from
the things we possess. Jesus was tempted by the
devil who offered him all the kingdoms of the
world. Jesus knew that the kingdom of God is more
valuable than the kingdoms of the world. He was
able to be detached from the things of this world
to be attached to the things of God. Through
almsgiving we practice detachment from the things
of this world and help those who are in need.
This practice could be difficult from some people,
especially because it requires giving up our own
possessions, our time, or our talent. Let us share
something with others this Lenten season. This
spiritual practice will help us to prioritize the
things of God over the things of this world.
Stations of the Cross
Praying the stations of the Cross is a beautiful
Lenten devotion. In past years, we would gather
for soup and stations, a time to share a simple
meal and pray the stations. Because of COVID-19,
this year looks different, but we are still gathering
in church to meditate on the passion, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. The 8th graders led the
stations on the first Friday of Lent, we appreciate
their willingness to do so.
Live the Liturgy
Throughout history God has given His
people signs. Our season of Lent offers
us God’s sign that it is time to stop the ordinary
routines of our lives, create some desert space,
and listen more attentively for God to reveal
His presence. We are asked to unplug from our
attachments, compulsions, obsessions, addictions,
routines, and busyness to clear the slate and
take stock in who we have become. We are
asked to remember the ancient sign of God’s
covenant with humanity in which He vowed to
nurture, sustain, and protect the relationship
He has with His people. Once we slow down
a bit and clear away some of the clutter, we
can see how the journey of our life is unfolding.
We can see what brings us in and out of tune
with God’s love and how we can better imitate
God’s loving fidelity in our relationship with Him.
Even though some good solid self-denial is the
order of the day, greater happiness and
wholeness will be the fruit of our labors.
Pleasant journey through the desert!