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Correct Lenten protocol
Today we mark the first Sunday in Lent and Lent is the 40 days in which Roman Catholics try to do good to themselves and those around them. Carnival just past saw a few songs espousing love and the need to love and show love to each other. The songs, though calypso style, sent a powerful message to the many hypocritical people in our society.
In spite of all our good intentions to observe the Lenten season with prayer, fasting and charity, we many times fall short. To show what this means let’s try to live the words of Matthew’s Gospel (6: 1-6 and 16-18).
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all rewards from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward.
“But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.”
The verse continues, “And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray go to your private room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place and you Father, who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.”
Speaking about fasting Matthew said, “When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do; they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father will reward you.”
There you have it. The correct way to spend the Lenten season, all laid out in the words of Matthew. For many of us Lent could mean much more. It could mean turning your life around, pledging to become a better person; to show greater love to your family and friends; to become more prayerful and get involved in parish prayer groups and god works of mercy. It may seem much, but you will be all the happier for it.
Vernon Khelawan is a columnist for Catholic Media Services Limited (Camsel), the official communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain. It offices are located at 31 Independence Square. Telephone: 623-7620.
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