Mar 4, 2014

Lent offers local Catholics many opportunities for growth



By Peggy Weber
(CNS file photo/Mike Crupi)

CHICOPEE – Wednesday, March 5 begins the solemn season of Lent. It is a sacred time when Christians are asked to recharge their spiritual batteries. They are marked with the Sign of the Cross and told to repent and believe in the Gospel.

Father Warren Savage, a lecturer for religious studies at Our Lady of the Elms College, here, says Lent is a season of possibilities.

“Oh, Lent is a beautiful time. It’s actually a retreat time. It’s time to go into the desert to refresh ourselves in God’s spirit,” he said. “It is a time to renew ourselves in that practice of reading the Scriptures and being of service to others.”

Beginning on Wednesday, there are some things that the church asks people to do. It is seen as a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Catholics between the ages of 18-59 are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics age 14 and older are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays in Lent.

Personal penance, prayer and acts of charity are recommended. Father Savage said Lent should be seen as an opportunity.

“It’s a great time for us really to deepen our relationship with God and one another. We have these six beautiful weeks to concentrate on what the church calls the gift of love,” he said. “In that gifting of love to others, we actually bring into the community the presence of Christ. And that’s what Lent is all about – making sure we reflect Christ to others.”

(Photo by Peggy Weber)

Personally, Father Savage (pictured at left) said he tries to make more time for something special each Lent.

“I love the opportunity just to read the Scriptures,” he said. “For me this is the wellspring that keeps me grounded in my life with God. It helps me to focus on what’s really important in life since the Scriptures are really about the ‘God zone.’

“So to read the Scriptures is to step into the God zone and make sure I come up from the zone looking like one of God’s beautiful children filled with love.”

When asked about people giving up things for Lent, Father Savage said, “You do with less in order to be more.”

“I look at my life and ask what is it that I need to do less so that I can be more of God’s presence in the world. We are so distracted and attached to things. So, maybe I need to give up some things so that I can be more fully what God has asked me to be,” he said.

One thing Father Savage will do more of this Lent is preach. He will co-present a program on “The Encounter Between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman” on March 3, 10, 17 and 31 at 7 p.m. at the Marian Center’s DeCicé Hall in Holyoke.

He also will lead a mission at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westfield on March 12, 19, 26 and April 2 at the 7 p.m. Mass. And he will preach at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Belchertown the week before Holy Week.

Father Savage said he loves spreading the “Good News.”

                                        (Photo by Peggy Weber) 

“Oh, I live and breathe evangelization. I love this book, 'The Joy of the Gospel,' Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation. This is his pastoral plan – that we proclaim the gospel with joy,” he said.
Father Savage also has written a guest column for the April edition of The Catholic Mirror.

There also are many other activities and opportunities for Catholics this Lent.

There will be an interpreter for deaf and hard of hearing persons at Mary Mother of Hope Church, 840 Page Blvd., in Springfield at the 5:30 p.m. Mass on Ash Wednesday.

And the calendar section on lists many other opportunities for spiritual devotions and fellowship during Lent. One click will show different ways that the next 40 days can be a chance to grow: