Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter where we fast, pray, and give. This season however, will look a little different due to the pandemic. From limited church capacity to ashes on our heads rather than foreheads, Covid has influenced several changes within the Catholic church. Although many traditions have been adapted to be more Covid-safe, the aspect of almsgiving is one that can easily be updated.
During Lent, we are encouraged to share our resources with those less fortunate than us. This falls under the third pillar of Lent: almsgiving. In the past, Christians have shared wealth, food, and other physical objects. Anything physically shared is good, but sharing doesn’t have to stop there. Theology teacher John Norman states that, “We have other resources to share. We have time, and also our gifts and talents are another resource that we have.”
We can always share our material items with others, but with the pandemic we have been challenged to try and expand what we share with others. “There is the use of the internet, talking with the elderly or people who are shut in… during a Covid Lent. Kids could send a card, and I’m sure that there are other opportunities of sharing time where we could keep a safe distance with people. There are many organizations that provide that opportunity for people, ” Norman said. Such organizations include St. Vincent De Paul, Matthew 25 Ministries, and even local parishes.
Along with almsgiving, Lent is a time to increase our time with prayer and fasting. “Certainly our kids could develop during Lent a better practice of prayer with the Lord,” Norman said. He suggested 7 minutes with God before the start of the morning and 7 more before bed. Fasting during Lent is not necessarily all about what we are giving up. “Fasting is a sacrifice we make… but the question is: When we give up these things, what do we put in place of that?” Norman said. That time could be spent giving alms, or reaching out spiritually to others. This can put into perspective exactly how we should be living our lives on the daily.
The three pillars of Lent work together simultaneously. As Catholics, we are called to act as Jesus did. By working to be more conscious of our actions and their results in Lent, we are training ourselves to be followers of Jesus through role modeling. By sharing our resources, we are using God’s gift to us in the ways we were called to do. Lent is one of the main times to practice these actions, but it is the ultimate goal to learn to include almsgiving in our everyday life, not just during Lent. As Norman said, “Lent is set aside to sort of reenergize our spiritual life with the Lord, but ideally these things are going on all year long.” Just like a New Year’s Resolution, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is a year round way of living.