Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent from the Heart

This year, Lent has a special meaning for me. I have heard our parish priest (back in Miami, our beloved Fr. Omar Huesca) tell us about prayer, fasting and alms giving many times. He always reminded us that fasting is not fasting if you don’t feel hunger. Fasting is not fasting if you don’t feel deprived of something. “Fast until it hurts in your stomach!”, he would tell us. He would follow it by reminding us that alms giving is not alms giving if it doesn’t hurt. If it is too easy to part with that amount, give more. “Give until you feel like it is too much, then you are truly giving alms”, he would say. And then he would remind us to pray with our families. Pray with fervor and devotion for those who have no one to pray for them. Pray for your children’s vocations. Pray for your spouse, for the poor, for the ill, for the weak, for the greedy…The list went on. This year, however, I am so far away from Fr. Omar that I have to make the effort to make sure we are fasting and praying and giving alms…until it hurts.

Lent’s sacrifices, as he explained year after year, are supposed to take us away from those bad habits we have allowed into our lives. They should, by the end of Lent, have become things of the past. And so, the sacrifice should become a regular practice for the rest of your life. So giving up chocolate, Facebook, sweets and things of that sort, while forcing us to restrain ourselves for a bit, don’t really habit train us. Come Easter Sunday, there is a mound of chocolate sitting at the table ready for consumption. Facebook has so many updates and new posts that the next three days are spent in seclusion catching up. And all the weight that was lost in the self-denial of deserts for 40 days (more if you still abstain on Sundays) finds its way back in a week’s time. We are called to challenge ourselves to lead better lives and be better examples of Christ’s love for us. In giving up detrimental behaviors, unhealthy foods or adding to our life of prayer, donating more of our time to charities, paying more attention to the needs of others over our own needs, we chisel away at those imperfections that keep us from full Communion with Christ. If we then continue these practices for the rest of our lives, every Lent we get the opportunity to chisel away at something else. Imagine how many great changes we can make within ourselves and in our parish or community over a life span!

This Lent, I am making sure I give up some of those really bad habits that have found their way into very prominent places in my life. I am also guiding my children to do the same. Using our religion portion of our homeschool day we are really diving into what it means to fast, pray and give alms. Taking this time to train ourselves to do better and be better for the greater glory of God provides us extra mental strength for the battle. You see, it is Lent, we are expected to give something up and keep giving it up for the entire season. So the external pressure to commit and see the sacrifice through is more present at this time of the year than any other. What is more, to do it with a higher purpose, not just for our own sake but for obedience to the Church and for the salvation of souls, well, that is just a great gift our Faith affords us.

From our family to yours, have a deep prayerful and selfless Lenten Season. May your journey with Christ bring you closer to Him and your loved ones. We pray for many graces to fall upon you over the next 40 days.
God bless,


  1. Beautiful message about Lent.
    It is so nice how much Fr. Omar has inspired you and you have carried it with you and reflected it, teaching your kids. We have great priests...and we are blessed by holy people and great examples of our Faith.
    Keep praying for them. I will do the same!

  2. Cristina, I really enjoyed this post! I miss Father Omar as well, him and Father Fishwick are such amazing priests and I have to say that aside from my family, they are the ones I miss the most! As Monica stated in her comment above, we need to pray for these priests, these "holy people and great examples of our Faith"!

    Though I am one who has given Facebook up for Lent, it is something I need to do more throughout the year...and yes it hurts, lol! I do need to think it through a little further (especially after reading your post) as then just like the bowl full of chocolate, it awaits me come Easter Sunday...not good! So thank you for sharing this with me and our wonderful readers!


  3. Thank you ladies. Indeed, let us keep praying fervently for our priests, the good and the not so good. Who are we if we don't take care of these wonderful people the Father sends us?
    Have a blessed Lent!