Besides fasting, praying and giving alms to the the poor, the holy season of Lent is also a time of thoroughly examining one's conscience similar to what a recovering alcoholic does on one of his 12 steps. In this examination of conscience which should lead to sacramental confession one should remember the Confiteor, "in what I have done and what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Examining one's conscience and listing the sins and the root cause of these sins (which is most important)are the easy part. Grace from God is needed for true sorrow that leads to repentance and a firm purpose of amendment.
A handout given to all Saint Joseph Church parishioners this past Sunday:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR LENT?
The season of Lent is 40 days and 40 nights of intensified Christian asceticism based upon fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Your Lenten discipline should be fashioned after these three forms of asceticism. Of course we are called by Jesus and mandated by the Church to some form of these ascetical practices all year long, not just during Lent and especially each Friday of the year. But during Lent, these should be intensified. Teach your children about this and bring them to the Stations of the Cross!
Fasting (and Abstinence) Church Law:
Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat, poultry, game and meat products on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent.
Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, in addition to abstaining from meat, should fast, that is, eat only one full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Smaller quantities of food may be taken at two other meals, but no food should be consumed at other times during those two days. The obligation of fasting ceases with the celebration of one's 59th birthday.
These practices are designed for spiritual growth. Catholics are not to excuse themselves lightly from these prescribed minimal penitential practices.
In addition, Catholics who are 18 and older may wish to follow voluntarily the older Lenten regulation of fasting everyday during Lent except on Sunday. The description of the fast above would apply. This should be purely voluntary and flexible and one’s health should be considered.
Every man, woman and child, though, should give up something for the entire season of Lent, like desserts, sweets, alcohol, soda pop, etc. You should give up something you like and therefore is a sacrifice.
Prayer: Daily Mass; Evening Prayer and Benediction on Wednesday at 5:30 PM; Confession on Saturday at 3:00 PM and Wednesday at 6:30 PM; Stations of the Cross, each Friday at 12:10 PM or 7:00 PM or privately at any time; Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our Adoration Chapel, weekly holy hour; The Holy Rosary and other pious devotions.
Giving up non-food items is not considered a fast but is nonetheless encouraged, like watching TV, blogging, computer games, etc but the purpose of this would be to make more time for personal prayer and devotions, like the Holy Rosary.
Almsgiving: Take a step toward tithing for the weekly offertory; Operation Rice Bowl for Catholic Relief Services; Weekly parish food drives; Work with Saint Vincent de Paul and donate to them; Increase Second Collection giving