Preloader Close
  • 414 221606/ 414 221001/2
  • Plot M210 Boazman Road, Mbuya Kampala P.O.Box 3872 Kampala

Lent means “forty” and symbolizes the 40 days of intense preparation for the EASTER festival. Why is 40 a significant number? Relatedly, Jesus withdrew for 40 days. Moses waited 40 days before going up to Sinai. Elijah walked for 40 days towards Horeb and the Jews’ march through the desert lasted 40 years. 40 is therefore, a symbolic number that expresses the eve, intense “preparation” of something very important, which for us, is EASTER. Lent is thus not understood if it is not in terms of EASTER.

On Ash Wednesday, we are told: “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Lent is therefore, a time of conversion. Convert means “return”, “change”, “correct the path” and “Renew”. The change we want is to go from the “old man” to the “new man”. The “Old man” is one who leaves behind Christ and the Gospel. The “New man” is the one who follows Jesus and lives according to the Gospel.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. Ash is a penitential sign; it expresses the believer’s availability to direct life according to God, the decision to undertake the path of conversion that passes through the Sacrament
of Reconciliation and the active and conscious participation of the Eucharist.

Faced with a world that divides and confronts men, a world that is becoming dehumanized and creating loneliness, we urgently need to open ourselves and convert more to God. Lent is a privileged time to listen to the Word of God, not with deaf ears but with the openness of heart that leads us to convert through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sacramental life, and solidarity with those around us.

Lent has a goal, a point of arrival, which is Easter. There is no authentic Lent without Easter. Lent thence invites us to focus our eyes on Jesus Christ and follow Him until Easter, that is, until the giving of our own life. This is why for Catholics, Lent is a strong time of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. These three signs; Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving show our conversion and faithful following of Jesus Christ.

What do Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving entail for the Catholic?
What does the Church understand, teach, and live since its origins?

Christian prayer
Praying is talking, relating and dealing with God in the style of Christ; hence, the name Christian prayer. Today, it is palpable, in quite a few, not only the lack of relationship and relationship with God but even the forgetfulness of God. Seeking and doing the will of God constitutes the heart of Christian prayer; hence the teaching of Christ, “thy will be done.” In prayer, we turn to God because we need Him to fulfill our lives and we are reminded that we can never achieve this or overcome evil alone. The selfish and proud person is never happy, he never achieves fulfillment, he never projects love. Christian prayer therefore, sustains and fertilizes activities and human life itself. It is necessary to exercise ourselves in personal, family and community prayer. Let us not forget that authentic Christian prayer always culminates in liturgical prayer and Sacramental life.

2. Fasting
Christian fasting is far more removed from masochism and protest. It is not difficult today to verify “fasting” as a means of social protest; hunger strikes. Fasting is also used to improve health or stay in shape: medical diets, physical exercises, etc. Christian fasting is much more than all this and its difference is clear. To fast Christianity is to abstain from food, sacrifice and exercise the body to always be available to the love of God, to be more sensitive to the life of love and charity and to open oneself more to God and others. Christian fasting is always a function of charity; if it is authentic, it is always projected in sharing and solidarity. Christian fasting is always linked to prayer; strengthens prayer and disposes the body to the will of God.

For this reason, in difficult times and pressing situations, the Church asks to unite fasting with prayer. For example, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; hence the words of Jesus Christ: “This kind of demons cannot be removed by anything but by prayer and fasting” (Mk 9, 29). Fasting for the sake of fasting makes no sense and does not make people better… Especially in a world where many fast not because it is Lent but because they have nothing to eat.

Like the athlete who does not stop exercising and training until he overcomes obstacles to achieve the proposed goals, the believer does not stop doing penance until he remains united with God and is able to overcome evil. Fasting strengthens the spirit, elevates God, opens up to God and others and weakens the forces of evil: selfishness, sensuality, evil inclinations, and passions.

Alms:Alms giving in the Christian tradition is an expression of charity, solidarity and fraternity. It is a means that shows taking seriously the commandment of the Lord: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mk 12, 31). We must not reduce Alms giving to giving what is left over but rather, sharing what we need, giving-sharing “as far as it hurts us.” Here, the Christian spirit of Fasting is inserted: giving to the needy what we do not eat or save; as Saint Augustine said: “may our fasts feed those who do not have to eat.”

Almsgiving is not limited to sharing material things. It is necessary to give alms also by sharing our time, qualities, abilities and influence for the good of those most in need. In this sense, Almsgiving is urgently needed from parents, teachers, public servants, priests and young people, in the field of health and justice. If this comes to light, out Fast would have yielded fruits!

Fr. Robert Nsinga MCCJ

Leave A Comment