Last week we began to speak about one of the great practices of Lent: prayer. Obviously, prayer is not something that we do only during Lent, but there are special graces in Lent to help us augment our prayer and develop great habits for the rest of the year and the rest of our lives. Hopefully you have had the opportunity to look at “Lectio” as you have been watching the videos of “A Lent to Remember.” The other two great instructive videos available on “Formed” are “Opening the Word” and “St. Ignatius, 40 Weeks.” You don’t need to watch all three to learn to make a good meditation. If “Lectio” is a style that doesn’t fit with you, then look at the other two. It is all about finding what fits for you and then using it and finding your own way to God. The graces we receive from our prayer are fundamental in developing virtue. Happiness on this earth can only be achieved through a life of virtue. Then there is the double reward: not only will a life of virtue make us happier on earth, but when coupled to the faith and grace, makes us worthy for eternal life and perfect happiness forever!
Another of the great practices of Lent is fasting and abstinence. By resisting our base desires to always satisfy our least hunger pain to the hilt, and even sacrificing some of our favorite food items, we build up the strength of our reason and will while opening ourselves to more of God’s grace and the building of lasting virtue. The Church sets before us a very minimal requirement of 2 days of fasting during Lent and 7 Fridays of abstinence from meat. Most of us are physically able to do much more. So what is holding us back. Challenge yourself! Strive for virtue! Making little sacrifices at every meal can also be extremely helpful to us, like not putting salt on our tomatoes, or if offered a choice of desserts, taking the one we like the least instead of the one we like the best. We see these practices exemplified by almost every saint in the history of the Church; fasting and abstinence are key means to growing in the practice of virtue. Upon virtue, grace can create a saint. The Church minimally defines a fast as eating only one normal meal in a day, and that the other two meals be small enough that they don’t add up to the one whole meal. No snacking between meals. We are bound to fulfill the minimum levels of fasting and abstinence the Church lays out for us if we are between the ages of 15 and 60. As I have said before, many over 60 are healthy enough to continue fasting and many under 15 are likewise capable. God is sending us special graces to be able to fast well during Lent—so let’s take advantage to build the virtues of temperance and patience as we open our hearts ever wider to God’s grace through our fasting this Lenten Season.