I helped out with our on-campus word service on Ash Wednesday and so I had to reflect a bit on the readings. It seems that a major thread running through them is that during Lent we need to change: Joel tells us to rend our hearts, not our garments; the Psalmist pleads: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” The scripture seems to be telling us that God wants a change in our attitude.
We often think about giving something up for Lent – candy, drinking, meat, social media. All that can be really good – a good discipline, a good practice – to be healthier or more mindful. Not bad ideas at all. But another good discipline, or a good practice, can be to take something on – like patience, or kindness, a change in attitude.
Over the past couple of years Pope Francis said we should give up indifference, we should fast from indifference, and take on solidarity. According to St. Pope John Paul II, solidarity "is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.” It strikes me that a firm and persevering determination is exactly a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.
But in any case, we all need to do something in Lent. Traditionally we have the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For almsgiving (and solidarity), we can use Catholic Relief Services "rice bowls.” They can help with that “firm and persevering” commitment to the common good. Pick one up in Cornerstone, the Social Action Suite or in the chapels. They’ll help change your attitude!