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Amen Corner - February 21, 2021

Amen Corner - February 21, 2021

Kathy Kuczka

On Ash Wednesday, we heard from the prophet Joel calling us to change, “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.” When we were marked with ashes, we were reminded of our call to change, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Return, repent, reconcile and renew are words that we hear in the liturgies of Lent. A common factor among these words is the prefix, re-. Re- is used to express the meaning “again,” but it is also used to indicate withdrawal or backward motion. The three traditional practices of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, can help us to return to childlike innocence, simplicity and joy.  

Prayer helps us to return to childlike innocence. Prayer prompts us to withdraw. As Jesus said, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Prayer nurtures our relationship with God. Prayer also nurtures our relationship with ourselves. Prayer peels away the masks we wear and the layers of ego defenses we think we need to survive. Prayer tells us that it’s ok to be who we really are. Prayer changes us.

Fasting helps us to return to childlike simplicity. Fasting challenges us to trust that God will provide all that we need. Fasting helps us to sort our priorities. Because the digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard, we have more energy to focus on what really matters. Fasting creates a hunger for God. Fasting changes us.

Almsgiving helps us to return to childlike joy. Almsgiving moves us to acknowledge how much we have been given and that fills us with gratitude and praise.  Almsgiving frees us from fear by compelling us to surrender what we have and who we are to others. Almsgiving requires humility. As Jesus said, “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret.” True humility always leads to joy. Almsgiving changes us.

May this holy season move us to practice these three Lenten disciplines, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that we may come to Easter changed and renewed with childlike innocence, joy and simplicity.


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