From The Pastor’s Desk – February 18, 2024

Lenten Intentions

The holy season of Lent has begun, and we join the Church throughout the world in this annual time of preparation to celebrate the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of our redemption. The season of Lent is a time of prayer, penance, and almsgiving. It’s also a time of spiritual discipline, sacrifice, and good resolutions. Many people find that their discipline is strong in the first days of Lent, but then, as the season goes on, it can become more difficult to sustain our good resolutions of sacrifice, prayer, and charity.

One suggestion that can help to sustain and fulfill our Lenten resolutions is to decide on some definite and specific intentions for the whole season of Lent. We can decide and announce to the Lord in our prayer that we will take up and offer our Lenten disciplines for certain intentions, whether particular or general. For example, if someone abstains from a cherished daily cup of coffee during Lent, the sacrifice could be offered for a sick relative or friend. Or, if we resolve to pray the Rosary each day during Lent, we can offer it for those who have lost their faith, or for those who are suffering from tragedy or war, for example. Then, when we feel weak or lazy, or when the temptation comes to skip our Lenten disciplines, we can recall our stated intentions and think of those we are trying to help by our prayers and sacrifices.

The spiritual disciplines of Lent remind us that God invites us to cooperate with Him for the good of others. It’s a goal of every Christian to become one of “God’s co-workers” (1 Cor 3:9). It could be that we undertake disciplines in Lent for our own benefit. For example, we might know that we need to grow in a particular virtue, and we ask God to accept our prayers and sacrifices during Lent to merit the grace of that virtue. It’s always a good goal for each of us to become more virtuous by the end of Lent. But we can also offer our sacrifices and good works for others in need. Sometimes the thought of helping others in need can motivate us more than the thought of helping ourselves.

Whatever intentions we might choose for Lent, the goal is to remember that Lent is meant to be a more spiritually intense time in the Church and in each of our lives. The goal of Lent is not simply to keep a resolution for the sake of proving our discipline and willpower, but rather to participate in a great campaign of grace for the benefit of others, as well as ourselves. And we are more likely to sustain our efforts in this great campaign if we carry in our hearts and in our prayers during Lent some specific intentions for our good resolutions.