In the world of computer and communication technology we know the reality of having the latest gadget and internet processor only to find ourselves out of date within a few years. In this face paced and ever changing world it may seem that our faith, spirituality and liturgical practices are constant forces in our lives that are never subject to change and updating… Right?
Well, yes and no. Our faith in Christ does not change. Our tradition and Gospel message is constant and unchanging. But our social and cultural reality does change and insofar as our faith needs to communicate to us within these social and cultural forces that is when our practices and moral development requires periodic updating. Lent is a time for us Christians to solemnly observe Jesus’ great sacrifice for us symbolized with the 40 days that he spent in the wilderness before beginning his own public ministry. Our Catholic tradition is to observe these days with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The observance and the tradition are not subject to change. But if our observance of Jesus’ sacrifice is meant to build the community of faith and to empower us in our joint effort to bring about the “Kingdom of God” then this traditional practice must also relate to the social needs of our global family.
This year we observe the 120 anniversary of our Catholic Social Teachings where our Catholic Church expresses its concern over a number of evolving social issues. This tradition is marked by the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” but it continues with other encyclicals and a variety of messages that has been offered by the Popes and Conferences of Bishops. Last year, in his 2010 World Day of Peace Message, Pope Benedict XVI shared his concern regarding the ecological impact of our consumer choices:
“It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view. We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new life-styles, “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments””.
In light of this message and our Catholic social principle of promoting “Care for God’s Creation” the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center have created an amazing Lenten program called Lent 4.5.
Lent 4.5 is a seven week parish program that has the parishioners’ journey as a community through a process of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that builds on the social concern that was addressed by Pope Benedict XVI. During the Lenten season parishioners will observe Christ’s own sacrifice for us by examining our own sacrifice for the sake of “common growth”. This journey will have us examine the following:
- Ash Wednesday Week – Christian Simplicity: Compassionate Living
- 1st Week of Lent – Food: Buying and Eating are Moral Acts
- 2nd Week of Lent – Consumption: Buying Less, Wasting Less
- 3rd Week of Lent – Water: Conserving and Protecting
- 4th Week of Lent – Energy: Choosing Efficient and Clean
- 5th Week of Lent – Transportation: Getting Around
- Holy Week – Gratitude
Lent 4.5 has created its own blog to highlight each week of the process and to allow people to share with other their own comments or questions on that specific part of the process. This week the blog begins with a reflection on Christian simplicity and Compassionate Living. Visit the site and consider updating your Lenten observance with Lent 4.5.