This is Our Faith
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By Karina Gomez

Have you seen how athletes prepare for a great competition? They practice over and over, trying their best each day. In a similar way, Catholics during the season of Lent prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. This special preparation begins on Ash Wednesday and extends for 40 days until Holy Thursday at sundown. Like athletes, the faithful are invited during this period to train the body, mind and spirit by spending time in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Spiritual training is key during this liturgical season and prayer is a great way for the faithful to begin preparing their hearts for encounter and conversion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches “prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father ... with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit” (CCC 2565). Therefore, the more the faithful pray, the closer they will grow in relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

There are different types of prayer that it is customary to pray during this Lenten season, including reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture, the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross. These prayers can be done individually, with family members or in community.

Another spiritual practice during Lent is fasting. Since biblical times, fasting has been a spiritual discipline used to prepare for a special encounter. Nowadays, Catholics continue this practice as a form of prayer, discernment and discipline of self-control. It helps the faithful to detach from material things that get in the way of doing God’s will, to make room to have an encounter with Christ and become stronger against sin.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those ages 18-59, as is abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent for those age 14 and older (for more information on fasting guidelines see In addition, the faithful can choose to fast during this season from an activity that they enjoy and spend that time in prayer instead.

Because prayer should lead into action, the Lenten season provides the opportunity to intentionally practice charity through almsgiving. In the Gospels, Jesus continuously teaches his followers to be charitable with others and reminds them to not store treasures on earth, but rather to store them in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Following Jesus’ teachings, the faithful are invited to share with others the many blessings received. Some ways to share time, treasures and talents are by donating money and food to those in need, spending time with the lonely and serving others with love and compassion.

Getting started with this spiritual training can be as challenging as the training of an athlete, with the difference that the athlete trains only for a competition and the faithful trains for an ongoing spiritual conversion. The beauty of this Lenten journey is that the faithful are not alone but are accompanied by the whole Church. It is the hope that by practicing prayer, fasting and almsgiving, every member of the faithful may grow deeper in relationship with God and discovers new expressions of faith.

Karina Gomez is the West End and Riverside Vicariate Coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry.