Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 23, 2009
A Lenten penance that lasts
Don't be bothered with 'fiddly things;' aim for reconciliation, conversion, say local Catholics
BY CHRIS MILLER
The 2 purposes of Lent
Lent has two major purposes:
It recalls or prepares for Baptism and it emphasizes a spirit of penance.
Through 40 days of closer attention to Godís word and of more fervent prayer, believers are prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery.
Lent's purpose is not to diminish life but to enrich it, she said. Too much time is wasted correcting the "little fiddly things" like not saying our prayers or disobeying our parents, whereas its focus ought to be more on the positives God has done in one's life.
Toner, a Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception, is one of several local Catholics who spoke with the WCR about their practices for Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.
"In the old days, Lent was about giving up all of the bad things you did," she said. But Lent should be more about reconciliation with those we have hurt.
"God forgives us totally, and we have to forgive ourselves. Make peace with what you have done to others and what others have done to you."
Lent, of course, is also about avoiding the daily inevitable temptations.
Toner said that Jesus was tempted to 1) turn a rock into bread during his 40-day fast, 2) rule the world, and 3) throw himself from the temple roof to see if the angels would catch him.
"These temptations are ours too," she said.
Sister Gloria Keylor, provincial superior of Sisters of Providence, said her Lenten penance aims at a growth in holiness, a spiritual renewal.
"I'm trying to love kindness more and be less critical of others," said Keylor.
For Roni Iwanciwski, pastoral assistant at Our Lady of the Foothills Parish in Hinton, personal penance is to spend more time in prayer.
But there are many activities in her parish too. The Catholic Women's League hands out Lenten crosses with its activities. And the parish has adult education classes in the evenings, four nights a week. The last two years those classes have focused on the Nicene Creed.
Catholic schools throughout Alberta are also active with Lent. Through the Positive Choice Leadership Program at Lloydminster's Holy Rosary High School, students find a deeper conversion of their hearts to the Lord.
"We usually have our student leadership council in charge," said principal Tim Brochu. "This can take on multiple forms, such as service projects, local fundraisers or global awareness."
About 50 students with the school's worship and praise bands have been on the road recently. Brochu said the students have been putting on shows, starting Feb. 21 in Fort Saskatchewan, at 10 different schools. These shows include music and skits.
Holy Rosary High School is closely connected with St. Anthony, the Border City's sole Catholic parish, he said. "It's a really unique situation, one parish in a small setting."
Oblate Father Mike Dechant said his BEARS Team will be active in junior high schools during Lent.
BEARS stands for the five beliefs that junior high students need: belonging, excellence, accountability, respect and safety.
The school-based program is about "students animating students," Dechant said. During Lent, students lead Morning Prayer in the classrooms.
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