We Need Lent 2023

(February 22, 2023)

Bottom line: Let's make 2023 the Best Lent Ever. Receive ashes as a pledge to fast, pray and honor God with your wealth. Make a good confession.

Welcome to Lent 2023. More than ever we need Lent. You may have seen the study released by Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It shows levels of persistent sadness have increased among our children - especially our teenage girls. Among boys they found greater levels of irritability and aggression. This change has taken place in the decade between 2011 and 2021. It's never been easy to be an adolescent, but it's gotten more difficult. And things are not looking so great for older people. The average life expectancy has dropped by two years - from 79 to 77. That concerned me because I'll be 77 in September. :) The Harvard studies relates this decline to what they call "deaths of despair" - drugs, alcohol, suicide and depression that leads to poor diet, lack of exercise and rest. There's no simple solution, but depression and despair come from the sense that life has no meaning. Brothers and sisters, we need God. we need Lent 2023. As we heard in the prophet Joel. "return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning"

There's no simple solution to the sadness so many of our young people experience. There's no simple solution to the sense of despair that haunts many older people. Jesus doesn't give a simple solution. Instead he tells us to return the ancient penitential practices. "When you give alms...When you pray...When you fast..."

Let's take them in reverse order. First - fasting. This is a good starting point because you and I are a soul-body composite. Sometimes we need to feel things first in our bodies before they can affect our spirits. Regarding fasting, the minimum required by the Church is abstinence from meat on the Fridays of Lent - no burgers, no fried chicken, but fish is fine. Not a huge sacrifice, but it is something we do together. McDonalds sells 25% of its Filet-O-Fish sandwiches during the 6 weeks Lent. I invite you to consider a more challenging fast - the "Daniel Fast. Inspired by the Prophet Daniel, the Daniel Fast avoids meat, eggs, milk, cheese, fried food, sugar, leavened breads and alcohol. Instead fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oil, corn tortillas, legumes, non-sweetened juices and fish. During Lent I try to follow the Daniel Fast two days a week. I find it influences my diet the other days. You of course are free to adapt according to your personal needs.

Fasting should lead to prayer. The greatest prayer is the Mass. Besides Mass on Sunday or Saturday Vigil, consider daily Mass at least once or twice a week. We have daily Mass from Tuesday through Friday at 9 am. Other parishes have noon and evening daily Masses. Consider walking as you pray, for example the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet. Or simply take a quiet walk to praise God for the beautiful creation he has given us in this valley. The internet has helps such as the Hallow App or Word on Fire to develop a discipline of prayer. You might consider the free Divine Office app. With ear buds these can be used while walking. The way out of depression and despair is prayer. We need God. We need good human friendship, but above all we need friendship with God.

A relationship with God includes some form of almsgiving - generosity to the poor and to one's parish. The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce. Then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow." I know parents who encourage their children to give part of their allowance in the Sunday collection. It may be a small amount, but it opens the gates of God's generosity. Now, we are not followers of the "prosperity Gospel" but we do recognize that God cannot be outdone by generosity. Best to bracket that thought - "do not let your left hand know what your right is doing". In other words, give generously and let God surprise you.

Let's make 2023 the Best Lent Ever. Receive ashes as a pledge to fast, pray and honor God with your wealth. Make a good confession. Next Friday (March 3) Fr. Rob Evenson will be with me for confessions from 7 to 8:45 - or until all are heard. Confession is sometimes called the poor man's therapy. I don't have great wisdom to impart - just listening and giving absolution, knowing we all stand under the divine mercy.


From Archives (Ash Wednesday Homilies):

Wake-up Call for the Soul
Fighting ADD
Finding Hope When Life Hurts
Best Lent Ever: Even Now
First Things
New Mind and Heart
Go to Your Inner Room
Return to Me
The Purpose of Lent
Two Cheers for Catholic Guilt
Don't Waste This Crisis
When You Give Alms
Back to the Basics
Dealing With Guilt
Exercise of Holy Desire

Homilies for First Sunday of Lent ("Temptation Sunday"):

2020 (Year A): Immersed in the Scriptures
2019 (Year C): Him Alone
2018 (Year B): Finding Hope When Life Hurts Week 1: Boundaries
2017 (Year A): Best Lent Ever: Prayer Changes Everything
2016 (Year C): First Things: Prayer
2015 (Year B): New Mind and Heart Week 1
2014 (Year A): Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 1
2013 (Year C): Do Not Talk to the Devil
2012 (Year B): The Convenant with Noah Today
2011 (Year A): The Purpose of Temptation
2010 (Year C): Who Is Like God?
2009 (Year B): Knee Mail
2008 (Year A): The Devil is a Logician
2007 (Year C): More Powerful than Satan
2006 (Year B): Sir, Go on the Other Side
2005 (Year A): The Temptation of Sloth
2004 (Year C): Temptation of Spirituality
2003 (Year B): Lent with C.S. Lewis
2002 (Year A): First Signs of Spring
2001 (Year C): How Satan Operates
2000 (Year B): The Rabbit's Foot
1999 (Year A): Original Sin & Temptation
1998 (Year C): Hidden Sin of Gluttony
1997 (Year B): Jesus' Temptation & Ours

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

Parish Picture Album


MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru