The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has encouraged that we focus on the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love in our Lenten journey as well as fasting, almsgiving and prayer.

This year Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17th and ends on Easter on April 4th.  During these 40 days we are asked to concentrate on His Eminence’s message:

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.” as cited in the Pope’s message found HERE.

The most prominent example of fasting was when Christ spent 40 days in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11)

The Temptation of Jesus

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted for forty days and forty nights,* and afterwards he was hungry. 3The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” 4He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ 7Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’ 8Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” 10At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: 11Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Almsgiving is the practice of giving money or food to the poor. In the Pope’s message, he asked that we care for all who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We see such financial hardship and people in need. You can see an example of alms, as written in Matthew 6:1-4. 

Teaching About Almsgiving.

1“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 2When 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. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

The bible then teaches us about prayer in in the same chapter Matthew 6:5-9, just before we are given the Lord’s Prayer.

Teaching About Prayer.

5“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. 6But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 7In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The gospel of Matthew further teaches us about Fasting in Matthew 6:16-18.

Teaching About Fasting

16“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. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

Faith, Hope and Love are popular terms recognized by most people.  But many people spend a lifetime seeking the truth of these virtues and the gift of love.

There are references of these in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in:

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.

1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer from the effects of the coronavirus. It ties into almsgiving but let us not forget that we are the recipients of unconditional love from our Lord.

Love is summed up in the commandment to love God and neighbor and to love one another as Christ loved us. Jesus gave us His ultimate example of love in the Institute of the Holy Eucharist.

The institution of the Eucharist

1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.

During this Lenten season, let us meet our Lord by being the best version of you by demonstrating hope, faith and love while meeting the needs of our community and your family. For your ultimate spiritual renewal, participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and pray by reading the bible. The above bible verses and catechism excerpts are simply points of reference.  I hope this inspires you to experience Lent to its fullest and its most rewarding spiritual experience.

Be Blessed,

Your Sister in Christ,

Yolanda Garcia

Online version to the Bible can be found HERE.Online version of the Catechism can be found HERE.