Lenten blessings

“I WILL make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”  — Genesis 12:1-4

You will be one of the blessing! This is one of good news of this Sunday Scripture Readings on the Second Sunday of Lent. It sounds offbeat in a season of repentance, abstinence, and prayer.

But if we reflect deeply on the words, it’s exactly the invitation of Lent. We’re called to be a blessing to others, the Church, and the world. This why another important  practice of Lent is almsgiving.

We’re called to sacrifice our needs for the sake of our loved ones, to share our  wealth with the poor and our time and talents with our community. We’re called to be generous with words of kindness, gratitude, and affirmation.

William Arthur Ward’s Lenten prayer captures this theme of blessing:

Lent can be more than a time of fasting. It can also be a joyous season of feasting.

Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.

It is a season to:

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ living in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on appreciation.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives

Fast from rom unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal hope through Jesus.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicions; feast on truth.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from thoughts of weakness; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Fast from everything that separates us from the Lord; feast on everything that draws us to the Lord.

May we look at Lent from these inspiring and positive perspectives. May our Lenten days be filled with blessings of love and peace!

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1999-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of ImmAaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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