• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

This year, the Catholic Church celebrates Ash Wednesday on Feb. 14. The ashes received on this day mark the beginning of the Lenten journey. The 40 days of Lent is a time of almsgiving, prayer and fasting to prepare for the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

“If we stand humbly before his gaze, then almsgiving, prayer and fasting will not simply remain outward displays, but will express what we truly are: children of God, brothers and sisters of one another,” Pope Francis said.

The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday, from Matthew 6, describes how Jesus taught the disciples to give alms, to pray and to fast.
When Jesus teaches His disciples how to give alms, He says, “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6: 2).

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward,” Jesus told His disciples. (Matthew 6: 5).

Lastly, when teaching his disciples to fast, Jesus says, “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you,” (Matthew 6: 16-18).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) provides some ideas on how to practice almsgiving, prayer and fasting during Lent:

• Make going to Confession a priority during Lent this year.
• Give alms to those who are in need. Explore ways to give in your parish, diocese, or through a national collection.
• Spend time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and ask for the grace to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.
• Fast from social media, streaming, gaming, or other entertainment.
• Say a prayer for victims and survivors of abuse.
• Say a prayer for all the elect, who are waiting to be baptized into the Church.
In addition to almsgiving, prayer and fasting, every Lenten season, “Catholics are called to renew their baptismal promises… [and] recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.” For this reason, Catholics are also encouraged to attend Confession during Lent.

In preparation for Easter, allow this Lenten season to be a time of renewed baptismal promises through penance and a response to Ash Wednesday’s Gospel in which Jesus teaches us and calls us to give alms, pray and fast.

“Brothers and sisters, let us not neglect the grace of this holy season, but fix our gaze on the cross and set out, responding generously to the powerful promptings of Lent. At the end of the journey, we will encounter with greater joy the Lord of life, we will meet Him, who alone can raise us up from our ashes,” Pope Francis said.