In 1989, the anticipated sequel Ghostbusters II was released. It became an underrated sequel in cinema history despite receiving mixed reviews. One scene that can everyone remember is when Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) interviews psychics on the topic of when the world will end. One suggests February 14th. His response, “Valentine’s Day. Bummer”.
Well, who knew that it would be prevalent to 2024. It felt like yesterday that we just had Christmas decorations on display at church, home, and community. Now, we are looking at the next liturgical season of the church that is coming before our very eyes, Lent.
It may be easy to hit the panic button as we may not have a solid game plan for Lent. At the same time, Lent beginning on a commercialized holiday can give us an idea on something to do during the season of helping us grow closer to God.
Valentine’s Day has always been about love. Another word for love is charity. As we will soon begin our Lenten journey, we should consider exemplifying charity in every aspect of our lives. Here are five ways to increase charitable practices during Lent.
Do Works of Mercy
We have 14 works of mercy. Each help us to show love not just to our neighbors but our enemies. It teaches us to be selfless not selfish.
St. Josemaria Escriva once said, “If you have so many defects, why are you surprised to find defects in others?" He has a point. Gossip is nothing but hate speech. It is hateful to damage someone’s reputation when you don’t know the person. Regardless if its directly or indirectly involved, we are guilty of taking part in gossip. We must avoid it. Pray for all involved.
Use Social Media for God’s Greater Glory
It goes without saying that social media is filled with so much toxic. It can be problematic. It can also create a cyber war. It can be charitable in two ways.
First, the comment sections can get out of hand from trolls when they pick and choose what one says. Most likely they will target you when dropping truth bombs.
Second, the best thing to do on the digital apparatus of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms is to post content about the faith. If a discussion happens, keep it calm and stay on topic. Be apologetic. Be sure to end it by saying that the person will be remember in prayer.
Go to Weekly Confession
How often do you go to confession? The most beautiful thing about this sacrament of mercy is that God encourages us to make a U-turn. Whether it’s been a month or a certain number of years, the sacrament is ready. All it takes is to muster the strength to lay your sins before God. Confession reminds us that we are loved by God. He loves us because we were meant to seek his mercy and share his love and mercy to others.
The best form of charity is giving back to the community. When we sacrifice our time, we show that we want to be selfless. There are plenty of opportunities to help. Maybe a religious order needs to collect items for a homeless shelter. Maybe your parish needs help with spring cleaning. Those things can help you meet fellow Catholics and grow in your spiritual journey.
Another volunteer opportunity is to take part in the 40 Days for Life campaign in your community. This begins on Ash Wednesday and runs until Palm Sunday. Some may extend it through Holy Week.
We do need to be charitable to those who jeer and utter profane things at us when we stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.
Bonus: Make Sacrifices for those in Purgatory
Venerable Fulton Sheen stress the importance of the faithful to remember those who are trapped in purgatory. They rely on you and me, the church, to get there. He puts it well when he said, “As we enter Heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming toward us and thanking us. We will ask who they are and they will say: ‘A poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.'”
Some things you can do are going to daily Mass, especially on Fridays. Offer Mass for them. Fasting from food and worldly pleasures. Listen to Christian music instead of mainstream songs. Walk through a cemetery while praying the rosary (be sure to include the St. Gertrude prayer either at the beginning or end). Make sacrifices (avoiding meat 40 days straight, secular entertainment). Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3PM (or another time before or after work). Visit the final resting place of family members or friends.
So, are you ready to display the virtue of charity this Lent?