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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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How Have You Spent Lent - Matt Pilcher
9/4/2014

How have you spent Lent?

Once again, chocolate fills the shelves of the shops and our pantries as we edge closer to Easter for another year. With only a number of days left in Lent it is a good time to reflect and review how our Lent, our journey and preparation for Jesus’ death and resurrection, is going. Lent invites each one of us to do something special for Jesus and our faith through fasting, almsgiving and prayer. In this reflection, take time to assess whether you have been fulfilling any or all of these three methods of giving and how you can improve in the short time left before Easter. The three traditional ‘givings’ of lent are:

·        Giving up something; a luxury or bad habit,

·        Giving money, materials, to help to people that need it, and;

·        Giving up time to be in prayer with God.

Lent is a time to help develop ourselves and our faith but also to help and save others in an extraordinary way, just as Jesus has and will at Easter for us. It is especially important to help those who cannot help themselves and those that are on the outer of society and in our communities. There are many ways to do this throughout Lent but also all year. One simple and great way to help those in our world is through donating to Project Compassion and other charities like St. Vincent de Paul. Although donating money, food, clothes and other items are essential in our world to survive and a great way to help, there are other ways that focus less on physical giving, but rather taking time out of our busy lives to tend to those less fortunate. One such way is by getting involved in Rosies.

Rosies is an Oblate run community of people that live out St. Eugene de Mazenod’s charism of helping the poor in spirit by creating communities of welcome, respect, support and friendship. Rosies operates in both Queensland and Melbourne and they simply offer hot drinks and biscuits to their ‘Friends on the Street’.  Rosies is different to many other ‘Fred’s Vans’ or ‘Meals on Wheels’ as instead of only offering material nourishment, Rosies gives people a sense of friendship and acceptance into a welcoming community. It is a great way to help people that may be alone in a vast community or outcast by society in an intimate way.

Live Below the Line is a program run by the Oaktree foundation and involves raising funds for people in poverty around the world. It requires participants to live on $2 a day for 5 days in a row. Although the actual week of ‘living below the line’ isn’t within Lent, it is still a great cause to donate to and get involved in. It gives you a very small taste of what it is to live a poverty stricken lifestyle and really helps you appreciate food and how lucky we are to live in such luxury. All you’re really sacrificing for this is getting a little hungry for a week to help people in dire need overseas.

Giving blood, if you are able, is another selfless act of helping those in need. With Live Below the Line, Rosies or donating to project compassion or St. Vinnies, you could be theoretically saving lives, it is sometimes hard to comprehend and properly appreciate that fact. However I find with donating blood, you can literally see your donation leave your body and go to someone that needs it much more than you, and as such save a life. An example of how easy it is and how rewarding is, is just in this year alone through 7 donations I have saved 21 people’s lives and dedicated only 7 hours of my time. That’s a life saved every 20 minutes. Now not everyone is eligible to donate but encouraging and supporting people that can is just as much as lifesaving as donating yourself and is such an easy but rewarding way to share God’s love and sacrifice for one another.

There is something about being able to give to those in need that words cannot describe; it is a truly rewarding experience for you as well as those you are helping. So in the short time left in Lent, but more importantly all year round, do something special for someone and share Jesus’ most loving sacrifice of saving lives in whichever way you can, because in the end, life is nothing if we can’t share it and celebrate it together.
Copyright 2014 OMI Australia