Preparing for Lent after a Difficult Year (on the boat and icy roads)

Somehow, many of us we have survived the virus and some people left us in our community due to COVID-19 but we are still on our feet and we are willing to keep fighting the good fight. We are fighting many battles at the same time, but in those battles the Lord is always our commander and chief. For this reason, preparation for a journey is key. But how can we prepare for Lent? This are my answers… By praying: being aware of God’s presence and receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist as often as possible; by fasting: I am giving up sweets and snacks; by practicing almsgiving: I am giving out money, time and treasure to people in need.

We often relate Lent with fasting. I want to fast more often as I have found fasting is a great spiritual tool to overcome temptation. My intention writing this words is to encourage fellow Catholics to live this Lenten season as its fullness. Let me share my personal journey with regards a practice that is not whole year round a habit: For a while I am just taking cold showers. For me is not longer a sacrifice as I get accustomed to cold water; my next challenge is to take ice baths. I have found that cold water give relief when I am stress out. Also, I discovered the benefits of cold water to help boost the immune system. I always see penance as the spiritual gym in which I shape my spirit. I want to be always in training. I built a habit with the help of the Lord, now i need to maintain this habit with he help of the Lord as well.

Last year and the beginning of 2021 has been challenging with a “new normal” that is taking a toll for many Catholics’ mental health. I can see how many feel discouraged of what happened in an election year. Some people is hopeless and without a purpose after loosing a love one. Some other feel guilty. This is a moment to pray for those who are losing faith and hope.

In today’s Mass readings, we heard the Lord speaking to us by giving us a lecture about what it means to understand Mk 8:14-21. When the apostles forgot the bread and they were in the boat with Jesus, the apostles were anxious about what ae they going to eat even when they already saw many miracles performed by our Lord. Anxiety is prevailing more than ever during times of pandemic. When the Lord said to his disciples Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Jesus is in the boat with us. Jesus chooses to be in the boat. He had many options but he decided to be with the hard hearts of the disciples. Jesus is providing for us an example of patience and love to them

We just reopened our Church last weekend. We were desperate about coming back and now we are gathering together in our Church. Now our challenge is to understand the message of the Lord which becomes harder and harder with the pandemic in with fake news inundating media and the internet. Last year and the new year seems to be lost for many who are not aware of God’s presence. We are glad to be together to help each other so we can understand what is the Lord’s will individually and as a community. I am ready to keep journeying with you even in icy roads. The following pictures I took the a few days ago when it was raining and snowing. I was thinking about you, my beloved community. I have to confess that I wrote this words on the snow and with bare finger it hurts. I was praying as I was writing after a beautiful snowy morning

…And for those who don’t know what to give up for this Lent here you have a nice article reflection on penance and sacrifice during times of a pandemic. Have an uplifting Lenten season… and be prepare to live this Lenten season with an open heart.

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