It’s finally here! After weeks of regular season and playoff games and all the preparation, the Super Bowl is tonight. I know many who are excited about and also making preparations to host big parties for the game. Even if you don’t like football or your favorite team isn’t playing, it’s fun just getting together with family and friends for this cultural phenomenon.
But let me pose a question. Are we as excited for the Christian equivalent of the Super Bowl—Easter? Do we make preparations to properly celebrate that amazing Easter Sunday when Christ rose from the dead and brought us salvation?
I bring this up because Lent is right around the corner (Ash Wednesday is on Feb 14). Just as there is a pre-game show to get ready for the big game, the Church has the season of Lent to help us get ready for Easter.
Traditionally Lent has been a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Now would be a great time to start thinking and praying on how we can grow closer to God this Lent. From EWTN’s website here is some information about what is required from Catholics:
“Abstinence The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste…
Fasting The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th to the 59th birthday to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance…
Aside from these minimum penitential requirements Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. A person could, for example, multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives). Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat. Similarly, one could multiply the number of days that one fasted. The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church’s law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys – candy, soft drinks, smoking, that cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the individual.”
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary what it is that we can do this Lent to draw closer to her Son, so that we can celebrate in heaven one day with Jesus and all the angels and saints.