|Day of prayer, fasting and almsgiving – Mar 11|
By Vernon Khelawan
Three years ago immediately following a successful Synod, Archbishop Edward Gilbert identified a number of issues, which affected the nation as they affected the Archdiocese. In that year 2009, he designated a special day of prayer for the nation.
The plan was to place great emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving on that day. The Archbishop encouraged all Catholics to commit to the exercise, seeing it as “living Lent well”. Parishes, schools and individuals were involved. The effort has now become an annual affair and will be observed on Friday, March 16.
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving relate directly to the revitalisation of Catholic culture and identity. There has always been in this Archdiocese a particular reverence for the Lenten period. Perhaps, in more recent times that dedication has waned somewhat, but all is not lost. Several parishes are doing more than just having their Lenten retreats and Way of the Cross services.
Archbishop Gilbert wrote that prayer (meditation) allows a person to develop a listening attitude through which an awareness of and an appreciation of the presence of God and the will of God is sharpened.
According to Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 Lenten message, “Fasting contributes to conferring unity to the whole person, helps us to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with God.” Pope John Paul VI in his time said, “People can be chained to their senses”. In his “Official” for the First Sunday of Lent Archbishop Harris made a plea to all Catholics to take the Lenten period seriously and to fast every Friday.
Almsgiving on the other hand, does not necessarily mean that during Lent one must seek out poor and underprivileged persons to give them money or, food or even clothing. Almsgiving according to Archbishop Gilbert “is a sign of the shift from self-interest to sharing and caring for others in some way – sharing time, talent and treasure”.
Almsgiving also ought to encourage greater commitment to Church, collaboration and solidarity.
It is evident there are several areas by which Lent can be helpful in developing Church while at the same time revitalising Catholic culture and identity.
Let us make every effort to observe solidly Friday’s Day of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.