Column – Growing in faith during Lent

Published 5:39 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

Chris Quilpa

Christians all over the world have the opportunity to grow in their faith with the observance of the Lenten season which started with Ash Wednesday, Feb.22.

Ash Wednesday reminds us mortals and believers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, of the reality that we came from dust and to dust we shall return. 

It is a Church tradition and observance filled with symbolisms to signify that we live and that we die…

It is more than a ritual of receiving ashes on our forehead from our pastor or designated Church minister to remind us of our existence and our mortality here on earth. It offers us spiritual growth and development in our faith of the one who created everything in the universe, the Almighty God through his only begotten son, Jesus Christ who became the sacrificial Lamb for our sake.

As the 40-day season of Lent has begun, what can we Christians personally do to grow in our faith with Jesus Christ?

What is one free, private and personal activity that we Christians can do to grow in faith and friendship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior

What are we willing to give up during Lent to help grow our faith and friendship with Christ?

How can our Lent be meaningful and beneficial to our growth in faith and friendship with Christ?

Why do we need to grow in faith and friendship with Christ?

Are there challenges or obstacles that prevent us from growing in faith and friendship with Christ? If there are, why are they important or necessary to overcome them or clear them out of our minds and hearts?

We solemnly observe Lent to remember and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, our Savior.

“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death,” said Pope Francis, the supreme pontiff and leader of the Catholic Church.

Lent offers us Christians conversion, the opportunity to change our hearts, to return to God, and to grow in faith and friendship with Jesus Christ. The 40-day season is marked with the personal practice of fasting, praying, and almsgiving.

With our faith and belief in Almighty God, who made Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, we Christians and sinners are blessed to have the ability and capability to have a change of heart, to deepen our spirituality or nurture our spiritual life much as we desire to grow our physical and social life to the fullest.

Prayer is one simple activity that can help us get closer to God and can help grow our faith and friendship with Christ during Lent. 

A private conversation or a simple form of communication with God, prayer can open the door to a deeper dialogue and a closer relationship with our Lord and our God. It leads us closer to Jesus Christ. It also leads us to a life of humility and holiness. It strengthens our resolve to change for the better, to grow our faith and friendship with Christ.

In our Lenten journey, we, as a Christian faith community, are encouraged to do three things to carry out our commitment as believers and followers of Christ: fast, pray and give alms. 

Like prayer, fasting is a personal, private matter. It takes personal discipline to fast, to sacrifice, to refrain or abstain from eating or indulging in worldly things that takes away our focus on what matters and what is important—our relationship with God through his only begotten son and sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ.

Alms-giving is another Lenten practice we’re asked to do as followers of Christ. Sharing what we have to alleviate the condition of our underserved, underprivileged and marginalized members of our society is something that we can do as members of our faith community. 

Donating a portion of our income, a weekly offering, to our church is something we can do to help in the spiritual growth and development of our faith community. As good Christians, we’re taught it is better to give than to receive. That’s what we learned from our Bible studies. 

Giving something of ourselves, our time, treasure and talents, is a manifestation of our being generous and kind to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is also an indication of our desire to help grow and build our Church, a sort of support to help evangelize and spread the Good News to others.

Since Lent offers us the opportunity to contemplate the temptations our Lord Jesus Christ faced during his solitude in the desert, we are given the opportunity to renew our commitment to be more like Jesus, to do God’s will and to put God above worldly concerns.

As we continue with our Lenten journey and pilgrimage, let us be aware of our desire to repent, ask forgiveness and atone for our sins so that our conversion becomes faith-full and meaningful.

Growing in faith during Lent is and should be our goal as Christians. We have to experience how Jesus Christ sacrificed and suffered for us, in order to have a meaningful Lenten season.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are Christian practices that help strengthen our faith and also help make our relationship with Jesus Christ closer than ever.

May our Lenten season be filled with peace, love and hope, and charity as we continue to grow spiritually in faith with God through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk and Chesapeake. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.