Lent, one of the most important liturgical seasons, began Ash Wednesday Feb. 14, and will run until Holy Thursday March 29.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is a time to “devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to sacrifice self-control through fasting.”
Here are some of the ways to fulfill that call.
Every parish in the archdiocese will host the sacrament of reconciliation March 19. (Contact your parish for specific times.) The idea originated among a small group of pastors, who gather as a council for Archbishop William E. Lori.
The opportunity comes during a time, said auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker, which allows Catholics to focus on any obstacles preventing full devotion to the faith.
“We realize that this sacrament cleanses us of our sins,” Bishop Parker said, “which allows us to grow in our relationship with the Lord.”
To learn more about the sacrament of reconciliation, listen to Father Brian Nolan from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg speak on the topic on Catholic Baltimore below.
Father Patrick Carrion offers an annual Lenten activity at the Catholic Community of South Baltimore. This year, it is a Lenten Communal Prayer, focused on violence. The parish provides prayer cards for a local cause, the more than 340 victims of homicide in Baltimore City in 2017; a global cause, human trafficking; and a faith-based cause, 21st-century martyrs.
The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland provides a five-minute reflection every weekday during Lent. It can be read it on the parish website, or received by email. In Towson, the Church of the Immaculate Conception offers Worship Wednesdays during lunch hour. Get back to the basics with a brief Mass and fellowship lunch (wraps available for cash purchase).
For more information on other Lenten-themed events, see the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s calendar here.
As Lent arrives, so do the struggles over what to “give up.” In recent years, adding a practice has become a popular method to fulfilling one’s Lenten duty. It does not matter what you choose, Bishop Parker said, as long it is done for the right reason.
“Whatever Lenten disciplines that one might choose should help bring us closer to the Lord,” Bishop Parker said. “It’s got to be centered on Christ and our relationship
With any discipline, Bishop Parker encourages Catholics to get started – and to pick up yourself and start over again if you fail along the way.
In addition to stopping at the poor box and increasing your offertory, give of yourself. One way to volunteer is with the Women’s Education Alliance, which sends mentors to Baltimore’s four Partners in Excellence K-8 schools.
While abstaining from meat on Fridays, engage with your parish community by sharing a meal. Many have fish frys.