WILLS POINT, TX – Bishop Danny Punnose, vice-president of Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by K.P. Yohannan, whose heart to love and help the poor has inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, to serve the deprived and downcast worldwide, shares on Great Lent: The Great invitation.
Have you noticed many restaurants are advertising fish sandwiches and seafood lately? That’s because the Church is in the middle of the season of Great Lent.
During this season, which began around 40 days before Easter, people around the world are spending greater time in prayer and intentionally taking part in fasting and almsgiving (the practice of giving for the sake of others). Traditionally, many people give up meat for Lent and opt for either vegetarian or seafood dishes instead—hence the reason for all the fish sandwich commercials you’ve been seeing. Others give up entertainment of some kind, or social media. Maybe you’ve even noticed some of your friends or co-workers fasting or abstaining from certain things?
Lent is a wonderful opportunity for us to deepen our faith through prayer and repentance. By giving up something as a sacrifice, we can purposefully make more space for prayer and repentance in our lives, and grasp more opportunities to bless and help those in need. This idea may seem a little strange to us, but it has always been a timeless practice of the Holy Church to take this season of repentance seriously so that we may experience God purifying our hearts. The purpose is for us to find joy in God’s grace.
Not Too Late to Join the Lent Journey
Even though we’re already in the middle of Lent, I invite you to join the one billion-plus people around the world already on this journey. It’s never too late to start! This solemn, focused time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving leads us onward to the joy of the Easter season, when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ and look forward to His second coming.
Like an athlete has seasons of intense conditioning and training, this is the Church’s season of conditioning, when we purposefully put ourselves in a place of exercising those areas of our life—especially confession and repentance—that we so often neglect and push to the back-burner.
Do Just One Thing
Why not practice one small thing during this Lent season? Don’t miss the point by getting caught up in trying to do everything all at once and then become discouraged because you can’t do it all. For millions of Christians, Lent is actually a time of unspeakable joy and blessing in the midst of oftentimes-small sacrifices.
My first suggestion is this: Pray what is known as the “Jesus Prayer” every day: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This timeless prayer is meant to focus our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our attitudes and our attention on Christ and the mercy of God. It’s a powerful prayer—simple, yet profound. As you pray this prayer multiple times throughout the day, you’ll find your heart yearning for more of God and yourself leaning on His mercy.
As you practice times of prayer and fasting, look for opportunities (or create opportunities) to bless others. It might be your own family member; it might be a co-worker or a classmate; it might be someone on the side of the road who’s asking for help. When we show kindness and love toward others, we demonstrate our faith in action, as James the Apostle taught us to do.
Finally—don’t be discouraged if you feel you’re not practicing Lent “correctly.” Lent is not a pass-fail examination. Remember it’s an invitation to journey with Christ “in the desert”—to purposely engage in prayer, fasting and to look intentionally for opportunities to bless others. It begins with our willingness. Then we put our willingness into action and trust God to do His work in His perfect timing.
Wholehearted Engagement in Timeless Worship
So, as you see all the advertisements for fish sandwiches and seafood, remember that Lent is an invitation to engage your heart, mind, and body in the same ways Christ did in the desert. Through these simple practices, we join in the timeless worship of God with all the saints who are part of the Holy Church, past and present—and those who will come after us.
Remember: Just do one thing for Lent. Do it with all your heart — and you’ll experience a deep blessing from God.
Bishop Danny Punnose is vice-president of Gospel for Asia (GFA World), a Texas-based Christian mission agency that serves the extreme poor and marginalized around the world. GFA World has launched a devotional website for Lent 2021, www.gfa.org/lent.
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Source: Christian News Wire, Great Lent: The Great Invitation