Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Three Pillars of the Lenten Season

Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: efforts at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity which covers a multitude of sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1434

For the Secular Carmelite the three pillars of Lent are not an annual observance that we try to fulfill. These sturdy pillars are what we cling to each day as we try to live out our vocation to live the Beatitudes.

The First Pillar: Prayer

Faithful to our Lord's invitation and to His example of praying without ceasing, and also to the Carmelite Rule's central command "to meditate on God's law day and night and to watch in prayer", the Secular Carmelites will prefer before all else to remain in the presence of God, continually fulfilling His holy will.
The Rule of Life, Article 4

Second Pillar: Fasting

The Secular Carmelite highly esteems the invitation of the Lord to deny himself and willingly to take up his cross daily and follow Him; he will therefore gladly mortify himself in union with the sacrifice of Christ, remembering too Our Holy Mother Teresa's remark that "prayer cannot be accompanied by self-indulgence" (Way of Perfection 4,2).
The Rule of Life, Article 6

The Third Pillar: Almsgiving

The Secular Order of The Discalced Carmelites sets before its members ideals, based upon the charism and teachings of the Order's Saintly founders, which constitute their particular way in Christian holiness. These are: a deep sense of faith in God's love; fidelity to contemplative prayer with the spirit of detachment it entails, and generosity in the practice of fraternal charity and the apostolate.
Rule of Life Article 2

We can read in the above excerpt from our Rule a summary of the three pillars of our call as Carmelites. Our main charism is contemplative prayer. The Lenten season brings this more into focus as we challenge ourselves to be more faithful to our commitment to seek the face of God in prayer.

Article 2 also mentions a spirit of detachment. This means not only to fast from exterior things but also from the sins we are attached to. This detachment will help us grow in union with God. Our Rule states, we must endeavor to practice fraternal charity at all times. Our love must be sincere. If our prayer life is authentic, the love we have for God will inspire us to perform acts of charity for our neighbor.

Another spiritual pillar we must cling to is almsgiving. Basically, almsgiving means charity. Let us give to our neighbor the love and respect they deserve as children of God.

Let us pray for each other; may our Lenten journey of prayer, detachment and love for one another help build up the holy body of Christ.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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