Hi, I’m William. I am a YMO at St John Paul College, Coffs Harbour. This Lent I have been focusing on the three pillars of Lent; Almsgiving, Fasting and Prayer. One of my other focuses has been on being prepared for Easter, for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But to be prepared I needed to know a few things;
How do I prepare? How do I know I’ve fully prepared? What if I under prepare?
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 is a reading where Joseph does as the angel commands him. Joseph shows obedience by taking Mary as his wife, and when she gave birth to a son, naming him Jesus. I found this very important because faith and obeying God’s commands go hand in hand. Just like Joseph was a model of faith and justice, I felt I needed to do the same to be one step closer to being prepared.
Matthew also tells us that Joseph was a “just man” referring to the virtue of justice. If Joseph was being just then he is being good and charitable meaning Joseph recognised and assisted those in need generously.
What I got from this is that by obeying God’s commands, no matter how big or small, combined with faith, I can be “just”, like Joseph. I would be able to become more charitable which I feel would link to the almsgiving pillar of Lent. So the question I asked myself from this was; Am I prepared to obey the Lord and his commands? Because if I answered yes, I would be fulfilling a pillar of Lent and be one step closer to preparing myself for Easter.
Fasting. Easier said than done. And on top of that, the ‘rules’ of fasting seem to always change. I like to think this is a valid excuse, I’ve used it may times, but in all honesty, I’m absolutely terrible at fasting. For example: food. Now I don’t eat a lot of food but it seems that when I’m fasting I eat double the food I would normally eat. This is problematic when it comes to fasting in the food category. I have no idea why I do this, perhaps I just become more conscious of what and when I’m eating. Although, I have succeeded (so far) in giving up console gaming this Lent. I love video games, a lot, so doing this isn’t easy. But I feel it is important to celebrate the victories. It has given me more time for work, family and prayer.
A lot of the talk around me at the beginning of Lent went something like, “What did you give up?” or “Are you giving anything up this Lent?”. And my answer was pretty much the same every time, “Yes, but I’m not saying” because I feel that what I give up is between me and God. So yes, I have given up playing video games, but there are other things I have given up too, between me and God.
For me, fasting is about getting my mind back on track and focused on God again. If I have successfully fast this Lent, then I am another step closer to being prepared for Easter.
I think Prayer is in the top 3, and if not, it is the most important pillar of Lent. Without prayer, fasting and almsgiving become actions without tradition and lose meaning. Prayer is a conversation with God, from which I can find the strength to fast and deepen my relationship with God. From giving up video games I have found I have had a lot more time to finish work, assignments, spend time with family, but most importantly, pray.
As a musician I really thrive on prayer through playing praise and worship music. I thoroughly enjoy playing it. Other ways in which I pray is through reading scripture and applying it to aspects of my life, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
This Lent was the first time I challenged myself to pray at least once a day without music. This was a huge challenge, especially because at home I am surrounded by music and instruments, but also because I didn’t know what to pray for. When I pray through music the lyrics help guide and shape my prayer, but without it I don’t know where to start.
The first time I did this I had no idea how to do, so I decided to break the silence and simply thank God for things in my life. Simple and easy. After a few more days I began to lengthen the prayer, give it some sustenance. I began to feel more and more comfortable entering into prayer without music.
From experiencing prayer in a different way I have been able to become even more prepared for Easter.
Now, back to the three questions I started with;
How do I prepare?
I’ve found that I can best prepare for Easter by practicing the three pillars of Lent. In preparation for Lent I found that I couldn’t just focus on one pillar, I needed to work on having a combination of all three to be prepared.
How do I know I’ve fully prepared?
For me to be fully prepared, I’m still not entirely sure how. I guess I won’t be one hundred percent sure until it is Easter. But until then, I can keep on almsgiving, fasting, and praying to give myself the best chance of being fully prepared. And I figured that if I’m not prepared entirely, I have at least developed healthy habit in the three pillars.
What if I under prepare?
If I under prepare, then similarly to being fully prepared, I probably wouldn’t realise until Easter, but would have developed good habits. If I have under prepared then I am able to challenge myself for next Lent, or I could look to continue on bettering my relationship with God.
Hopefully I’ve now addressed the question of “Am I Prepared” for Easter. I feel as though I have prepared as best I can this Lent, and I believe that each person will prepare for Easter differently. Each person will have a different balance of the three pillars, a balance that suits them. So the question is ultimately up to the individual.
Are you prepared?