Here we are already at the third Sunday of Lent. We are about halfway through already! How time flies when you are having fun! If your Lent has so far been going well, you are practicing the three traditional penitential practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving, and you are moving forward in your Lenten practice, then congratulations and keep up the good work!
If Lent has snuck up on you and those good intentions you had on Ash Wednesday have not yet come to fruition, then know it is not yet too late. Begin today your Lenten practice, and make this holy season a time of growing closer to the Lord and your fellow Christians, and becoming more fully a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Now is the time to start!
If you have already been doing well and would like to add some additional penitential practices to your observance of Lent, or you are looking for some alternative ways of doing penance, let me suggest a few other ways of practicing your discipleship. One is to arrive on time, even early, for Mass on the weekend. This requires discipline and fortitude, getting up in time, leaving the house early, and getting to the church before Mass begins. This holds the added benefit of having time to calm down when you get the church, settle yourself, and prepare mentally and spiritually for the Mass. You will also be able to hear all the readings. Arriving for Mass on time is a great way to practice Lent.
Another suggested penance for those who really want to excel is to move to the center of the pew. Leave the end for those Christians who arrive late. This practice is just short of martyrdom and will certainly gain you a higher place in heaven.
While coming to and from the garage you can also practice penance by picking up trash on the church grounds. We have lots of traffic go by us on Guadalupe and San Antonio Streets. The winds in the evening blow all sorts of cups, wrappers, paper and assorted junk onto our campus. Our maintenance people do a very good job of trying to stay on top of all the litter, but they cannot be everywhere. This is YOUR church and school campus. Please treat it like your own home. Trash and litter makes our grounds look shabby, and less then welcoming. We all are responsible for the appearance of our parish. Make it attractive and welcoming by picking up stray trash and depositing it in the waste cans.
Finally, in addition to giving alms, you can also give compliments and encouragements. Give a compliment to the altar server, lector, usher, Eucharistic minister, greeter, musician or choir and ensemble members. These people donate their time and talent to help us make our worship friendly, beautiful, and flow smoothly. Let them know that they are appreciated.
With a little imagination I am sure you can come up with other ways to do penance that are meaningful for you. Have a blessed Lent!