Why is it a serendipitous time to begin observing Lent and preparing for Easter 2022? We’ll give you three reasons: right now there is a great need for prayers to restore world peace, reduced Covid-19 rates and restrictions let us get back to church and it is a good time to welcome people who’ve strayed from the church during the past two years. So, how will you observe Lent this year?
Three Reasons Why Now is a Good Time for Observing Lent
There is a Great Need for Prayers and Actions to Restore World Peace
First, the past two years were extremely hard for people across the world. However, the inhumanity of the war on Ukraine has inflicted hardships of another devastating level. As we focus on penance and spiritual reflection, let us keep Ukraine and restoring world peace top of mind. Let us think of ways we can offer our help to the people of Ukraine in various ways. Perhaps you can integrate your Lenten preparations with efforts to pray and help Ukraine?
Reduced Covid-19 Rates and Restrictions Pave the Way for Togetherness
Second, after a chaotic winter Covid-19 rates have returned to very low levels again in New York City. Hallelujah! As NYC reduces Covid-19 restrictions, it is a great time to return to your parishes. Since the mask mandate has been lifted in churches, you can now see the smiling faces of your community members. Masks are still required in public transportation and transit-related spaces, including ride share services, subways, airports, bus and train stations. Please refer to ny.gov and nycgo.com for the most recent news on New York City Covid-19 restrictions and requirements. For guidelines and international travel requirements, check “Documentation Requirements” and “Timing Requirements” on cdc.gov for frequently updated and accurate information.
Invite Friends and Family to Participate
Third, as we set the tone for Lent, isn’t this a great opportunity to reach out to people whom you haven’t seen in a while and ask to spend time together? Perhaps you can participate in mass or volunteer with an organization or event that helps other people? After all, community work, making donations and volunteerism counts as a part of your preparation for Lent. The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday on March 2nd through Holy Thursday on April 14 providing plenty of time to make plans!
What should I do to observe Lent and prepare for Easter?
This is a common question many Christians ask themselves leading up to Lent. We can all use a reminder sometimes, so here are some ways you can observe Lent and prepare for Easter:
- Fasting – Many people fast to observe Lent. Fasting means that you only eat one full meal per day. Catholics ages 18-59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. If you are not specifically obligated to fast, it could be a good exercise of faith to participate in fasting to the extent that you are able.
- Abstinence – Abstinence, in terms of Lent, means that you should not eat meat or poultry. Catholics ages 14 and older should abstain from eating meat or poultry on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.
- Penance – Fridays should be set aside for days of penance or sacrifice. Every Friday, you can sacrifice something or perform volunteerism to show your devotion and gratitude for the suffering and death Jesus accepted for us.
- Prayer – People like to celebrate Lent by praying. There are many ways to pray including praying while attending mass, praying on your own or tuning in to a radio station or Catholic news outlet that broadcasts prayers as well, for example, you can pray the Stations of the Cross with EWTN.
- Practice Unconditional Love – As people who believe in God, we need to trust that God loves us unconditionally even when we are not perfect. We are lovable even if we have flaws. We can take the concept of unconditional love and apply it to our own lives by loving others unconditionally. Do you have a grudge you’ve been holding onto or know of a situation where you could forgive someone for doing something that bothered you? Let it go and let God guide you to resolve the situation. You may feel better for doing so. Remember that we are human extensions of God’s inclusivity, forgiveness, mercy and compassion.
- Be present – This is not easy these days with all the screens and distractions of modern life. If you are mindful of your distractions, try to block them and be present to others and to the world. You are capable of opening your heart to God and the power is yourself to be there for others.
Do you have any other ideas for how to observe Lent? Please share them in the comments on our Facebook page. May these forty days provide you with an opportunity to live inspired by God. Let us connect with one another as a community of imperfect but holy men and women who are loved by God unconditionally.