By Laurie Hallstrom
The guidelines for Lent are printed on the next page. Just in case anyone would like a few ideas, or a nudge, here is a peek at what a few Catholics do for Lent.
Mary Ann Koenig is a member of St. Anthony Church, Fairfax. “Now that we are empty nesters I’m afraid we aren’t as deliberate about daily practice, but we are always sure to have a donation ready for the Holy Thursday collection for the poor.”
At her parish there is no resident priest. Parishioners in Fairfax lead their own Lenten prayer services. “There are Stations of the Cross every Wednesday before Faith Formation led by the students and on Fridays stations are led by the Knights of Columbus,” she said.
Koenig added, “For penance in recent years I have tried to add some sort of prayer or devotional rather than (sometimes along with) giving something up. I have used Dynamic Catholic’s Lenten materials several times.”
It has been tradition to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches after the Ash Wednesday Mass at her church. “We follow that with some kind of short film about Lent, or the life of Christ that is suitable for all ages,” she said.
“One thing our family has done for years is observe the Paschal fast from Holy Thursday after evening Mass through Holy Saturday after the Vigil service. It’s more than a food fast — we don’t use radio, television, or other technology, and computers and telephones only as necessary. It’s a fast of silence from the noisiness of our lives.”
Mike Krynski of Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, said he doesn’t have a special charity during Lent. “There is a minor increase in prayer and I do go to confession,” he said. “I try to eat very light on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays, and I drink plenty of water to stay hydrated,” he said.
Sandy Kelly goes to Sacred Heart Church in Philip. Asked about almsgiving, she said, “We try to find a charity, usually which helps children, to fund. If we find an opportunity to serve, we will do that too. It really is not planned out — we see what comes up during Lent.”
Like Koenig she uses Dynamic Catholic resources during Lent. She adds to that books provided by the parish.
“On Fridays we try not eat between meals. We do tuna casserole, cheese/olive pizza, fish sticks and fish. For fasting, it helps to stay busy and when I do really feel the hunger I think about those who may feel this on a regular basis or reflect on the Passion.”
William F. Greene, of St. Mary Church in Newell, said he doesn’t add any giving to charitable causes for Lent because, “I give to charity all year long.” To increase his Lenten prayer life he said, “I pray on the Passion story and I limit pleasurable activities during Lent.” He concurred with Krynski about drinking plenty of water. On Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent he usually eats just vegetables.
Frank Birkholt is from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Hot Springs. When asked about almsgiving he said, “I hope to do more this year, but in the past, I really haven’t done anything extra.”
Regarding prayer and penance, he said, “I have a normal holy hour, but I try to spend more time in addition to that. Also, I tend to be more diligent with reading the Bible during Lent. I try to prepare my heart by going to confession more than once a month during Lent.” He said he abstains from alcohol, caffeine and sweets during the season of Lent.
He observes the church rules for fasting from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. “This Friday observance is something I try to carry over all year,” he said. “I also try to do a three day fast over the triduum. The biggest tip I have for fasting is prayer prior to starting it and do it on behalf of somebody else.”
“ I have a great recipe for black bean and squash chili that I love to make for Lent,” he said.
Tammi Williams is also from Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City.
Traditionally during Lent she chooses little acts of taking the time to handwrite letters, make actual phone calls and visit others in person. At her house they choose one organization or charity to give a gift of money.
“Non-traditionally, I step out of my comfort zone and try new things — teach a religious ed class, serve as a Eucharistic Minister, teach adult reading, volunteer as a teacher’s aide, or lead a prayer group with other families.
Williams said she does not add new prayers specifically for Lent, but is highly involved year round. “I’m in the Veritatis Splendor Institute Masters 1 Class and a Cor ad Cor prayer group. I highly recommend them both,” she said, adding the Cor ad Cor prayer exercises are designed to complement the liturgical seasons.”
Williams fasts two days a week regularly. “By fasting on Wednesday and Friday, I mean one meal — usually supper. I prefer fish or soup, nice bread, no meat. I find it helpful for fasting to attend Mass and receive the holy Eucharist. I make the fast for a specific intention (offer it up for a family member’s health, my growth in virtue …), and I pray to the saints for their intercessions,” she said.