To mark the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick reflected on ways that the faithful can live out the “three pillars” which characterise this penitential season: charity, sacrifice and prayer.
Bishop Leahy said, “Lent invites us to focus on charity, sacrifice and prayer to help us grow closer to God. In terms of charity, many homes are familiar with the Trócaire box, and some contribute to a favoured charity, or cause, to help another. Similarly, the decision of a person to make a sacrifice, or to forfeit something we enjoy, is an effort to follow the selflessness of Jesus.”
Emphasising the centrality of prayer for Christians, the Bishop of Limerick said, “The power of prayer allows us to communicate directly with God, anytime, in a church or anywhere. With the hustle and bustle of family life this can be hard, but there always meal times, the Angelus, or with children before they go to sleep.
“Prayer is the raising of our mind and heart to God. Prayer is as important as the air we breathe. I once have heard someone say, ‘I want to pray but I am too busy and I don’t want to miss out on television, movies, going out with friends.’ Yes we should do these things but, as humans, we need to pray. It is good for us. I like what Saint Mother Teresa said: ‘I used to believe that prayer changed things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.’”
In conclusion, Bishop Leahy said, “A simple way to pray is to say “For You” ie for God, before each action we are doing. We can also pray for our own needs, and the intentions of others. I pray that we use our God-given gifts to make a better world; for a loved one who is ill or distressed; the end of war in Ukraine; young people trying to get housing; disrespect shown to our neighbours who have come here for a new life; those experiencing poverty; and for an end to violence again women, children and random attacks on people.
“Let us come home to God this Lent by chatting to Him from the heart, every day.”