Catholic author stresses importance of living Lent all year long - Catholic Courier
A woman kneels while praying the rosary.

Carol Houck kneels as she prays the rosary before a March 22 Mass at Bradford’s St. Stanislaus Church. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Catholic author stresses importance of living Lent all year long

Easter Sunday has arrived. After 40 days of Lenten sacrifice, it’s time to part with those initiatives.

Or is it?

Not necessarily, according to Matthew Kelly. The nationally renowned Catholic author and speaker asserts that Catholics can — and perhaps should — maintain the Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving well into the future, rather than revert back to old habits.

“We’ve got these three incredibly powerful pillars of Lent. Now that Lent’s over, let’s not give up on them,” Kelly said in a 2023 video on his YouTube channel, “3 Ways to Harness the Power of Lent All Year Long.”

Kelly added that Lent isn’t designed for making sacrificial efforts that simply disappear come Easter.

“You don’t have to wait until next Lent to allow the power of Lent to continue to live in your life,” he said. “Lent is just a period where we plant (a discipline) in our life, where we nurture it in our life, where we allow it to take root in our life.”

Lenten discipline helps us become the ‘best version of ourselves’

Father Patrick Connor, pastor of Steuben County’s Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish in Addison, Bradford and Campbell, also promotes the concept of extending Lenten initiatives. For instance, noting that his parish offered Stations of the Cross before every weekday Mass this past Lent, he suggested that worshipers observe that devotion on their own going forward — perhaps meditating on one Station per week “and how it speaks to them,” he said. The priest added that spiritual book study and eucharistic adoration also are popular Lenten initiatives that can easily transform into year-round customs.

Meanwhile, in his video, Kelly noted that Easter can signify a step toward lasting growth that may have begun taking shape through Lenten prayer and sacrifice.

“Easter is the ultimate new beginning. It’s the ultimate fresh start, it’s humanity’s ultimate second chance,” he stated, saying fresh starts can apply to such vital areas as marriage and relationships with loved ones. Saying that “our lives change when our habits change,” Kelly added that transformations can manifest themselves in several parts of daily living: being more generous; paying more compliments; and expressing deeper appreciation for others’ kindness.

“It might just be one area of your life that God wants to pour all the blessings of Easter and all the power of Lent,” Kelly said. “And the question is, are we open to that? Are we willing to allow him to continue to help us become the best version of ourselves every day of the year — in the way that the church teaches us to become the best version of ourselves throughout the 40 days of Lent?”

Steuben County priest, Catholic author say Lenten habits can produce permanent growth

Kelly pointed out that the object of Lent is not to attain a certain personal and spiritual peak, allow it to recede and then rise back up the following Lent. Rather, he said, Lenten growth marks a continuum of progress “so that next year, you come back and you’re starting from a higher level.” He also suggested that Catholics strive to practice Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving “in some small way, every single day, for the rest of our lives.“

Father Connor agreed that the end of Lent is an ideal time for people to take stock of their lives, reflecting on the positive strides made during the Lenten season and maintaining those objectives going forward.

“Think about where you were spiritually. How have you grown? How do you see God today from how you saw him before?” he said.

Tags: Catholic Beliefs, Faith Formation, Priests
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