Entering into the Season of Lent: A Valuable Time of Preparation and Reflection as We Look Toward Easter
During Lent, it can seem too easy to become complacent and give up the “normal” things. Maybe each year, you give up chocolate or dessert. But this year, let’s take extra care to choose something that will challenge us. And don’t just give something up — think of what you can add to make your Lent richer and more prayerful. Commit to making this Lent the best one yet so you can fully celebrate the joy of the Easter season.
Fr. Rafal Pyrchla offers some recommendations for this Lent, including practicing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These should be lived out all year, but Lent is an especially great time to put them into practice. Fr. Rafal notes that he usually gives up television or sweets.
“There is always something you can give up for Jesus,” he says. “Lent is a time for mortification. The Lent practices help me to focus on the mysteries of Our Lord, especially His suffering and death on the cross.”
St. Francis Solanus is hosting a wide variety of activities for Lent. Try to attend, as these offer a great way to prepare for Easter and spend time with your parish family. There is a fish fry on Ash Wednesday, led by the Holy Name Society. On the other Wednesdays during Lent, there are soup suppers after 5:30 p.m. Mass. Every Friday during Lent, Stations of the Cross take place at 5:30 p.m. On Palm Sunday, our Holy Name Society serves a chicken dinner. The Deanery will host a city-wide penance service at one of the Quincy parishes.
Easter is the most important day in our Faith.
Fr. Rafal notes that we fully prepare for other important days like weddings and sports competitions. Why wouldn’t we prepare for Easter to the same degree? This is why the Church gives us Lent.
“The more important the event, the more preparation there is,” Fr. Rafal says. “So, if Easter is important, good preparation is necessary to experience it well.”
In turn, Fr. Rafal also recommends using Lent to slow down and consider what is most important in our lives.
“We never have enough time for anything, so maybe our first resolution should be to stop this pace of life,” he says. “The only way you can notice something is when you have time to think, contemplate and simply be with yourself and with God.”
We should be sure to attend Reconciliation before Easter. As Catholics, we are to go to Reconciliation at least once yearly, and Lent is an excellent time to receive this sacrament. We are also to receive the Eucharist at least once per year. Most of us, though, receive the Eucharist every week, as long as you have no mortal sins on your conscience.
“We clean our souls in the Sacrament of Reconciliation — therefore, receiving the Eucharist during Easter is extremely important in the Catholic Church,” Fr. Rafal says. “To meet the minimum to which the Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, calls the faithful, the faithful must be in a state of sanctifying grace during the Easter period to receive Holy Communion. And the best and most effective help for this is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”
Consider what you might do to make this Lent extra special. When you attend Mass on Easter or at Easter Vigil, it will be a beautiful experience.
“Preparing for Easter is very important,”
Fr. Rafal says. “Jesus died on the cross for our sins. What do we do for Him?”
Of the upcoming Easter Triduum celebrations, Holy Thursday is a favorite for Fr. Rafal.
“I love Holy Thursday Mass,” he says. “It reminds me of the first supper the disciples had with Jesus. There is a lot of meaning in that. Jesus called me in a special way to be His servant. I became a priest because of Jesus. I always appreciated what Jesus has done in my life.”
All parishioners are encouraged to attend these events during Lent at St. Francis Solanus so that we may all truly experience the joy of Easter!