When speaking of Lent, for most believers, what stands out in our minds are the practices of repentance and prayer, fasting and self-denial. These long-lasting traditions in the Church are ingrained in the hearts of the faithful. Therefore, during Lent, many churchgoers practice self-denial and fasting in different ways, such as giving up their favourite food or entertainment as an offering to God and as penance. Parishes and different ministries also arrange retreats and spiritual talks, which is an excellent tradition that is greatly beneficial to the faithful.
On top of this, in this year’s Lenten retreat of Fountain of Love and Life, we hope that everyone will make good use of these precious 40 days with a new mindset, not limited to the conventional ways. In addition to prayer, fasting and self-denial, we also hope that everyone will spend more time and effort on acts of love in their limited time. The reason is simple, because in this busy generation, our daily schedules are usually packed, leaving us with little time and space to care for our brothers and sisters around us. During the Lenten season, by letting go of some of our pleasures and entertainment, we finally have some time and space in our busy lives. We should not let these spaces be filled with trivial matters, but seize the opportunity to practise charity in our personal, family and community lives.
As Catholics, we cannot deny that performing acts of love is not our forte! Particularly, when we are busy, we tend to take the easier route and choose to do good in the most time-saving way, or simply donate money to do charitable work. Donating money is good and important, but it is not as good as us also taking action and giving our time and energy to our brothers and sisters in need, and our community. Time is our most valuable asset, because time represents our lives.
For many people, the greatest sacrifice we can offer them is to give of our time, and this is the most precious offering in this day and age.
Therefore, please do not be too stingy with your time. Humans are filled with “dryness” and various unsatisfied yearnings in the depths of their hearts, such as the desire to be cared for, understood, and accompanied and these cannot be satisfied by money or material things.
We can say that the biggest difference we can make for ourselves and for the world in this Lent is to be willing to spend time with the people around us, especially those brothers and sisters who are most in need of our love and care!
In this day and age, information technology and products are rapidly changing; coupled with information overload, they not only make us confused, but also waste a lot of our time and energy. We need to ask ourselves, are these technologies and information helping us to learn how to be a better person, or are they becoming stumbling blocks on our way to holiness? Especially now that artificial intelligence (AI) is developing rapidly, everyone is fascinated by it. While there are lots of discussions about whether people’s jobs will be replaced by AI, we need to be more concerned about the impact of all these advancements on interpersonal relationships. The weakening and deterioration of human relations is a serious problem that we cannot ignore. We may rationalize it by saying that this is an inevitable consequence of progress in the society, and we are all passive and cannot change anything. Let us challenge this idea in this Lent. The biggest difference between humans and other animals is that we have free will to choose right from wrong. Yes, we are all part of this fast-changing world, and sometimes we feel powerless and don’t have a choice. But we must not let the prevalent culture and trends of the society take away our free will, given by God, to choose God and live out the Christian spirit.
Our hands are not tied! When all Christians unite to choose Truth, to choose to live with the selfless love and the ways of Jesus, this world is still full of hope!
Time is our most precious resource. How would you like to properly allocate your time during this Lent?
Please pray to God for inspiration and assistance in choosing more meaningful acts of love, and ask for faith and strength to complete them.
Please ask God again how you can make choices in life to let go of the lower priorities, in order to make room to carry out the acts of love inspired by Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being so patient with me, tolerating the wrong decisions I have made in my life and my wasting time on things that do not please You. Please forgive me for my lack of initiative in asking for and listening to Your holy will in my prayers, and just keep on presenting You with my requests. During this Lenten season, I hope to learn to invite You into the details of my life, discern Your messages and invitations to me in the moment, and actively respond to them. Teach me how to make good use of the time You have given me and to share with others my life, which You have blessed me with. All this I ask in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.