Lent and the Process of Ongoing Conversion

All during Lent, I have been talking about them myself, we hear about the necessity of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, we don’t hear a lot about why the are so important. They are not the end-all, be-all, in and of themselves. The have a purpose and that purpose is CONVERSION.

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What is Conversion?

The literal meaning of conversion is “to turn toward” or  “to turn away from.” In our case, conversion is a turning away from sin and turning toward God.

We sometimes hear about famous people who convert to Catholicism or who have had extraordinary experiences and conversions (reversions” to the Catholic faith. You may have read the conversion story of Scott and/or Kimberly Hahn or other outspoken Catholic convert. Those are amazing and inspiring stories that can absolutely bolster our own faith life.

However, for most of us, our conversion will be a daily, ongoing process. It will be a daily decision and act of turning to Jesus as our Savior in the midst of our daily lives. It is choosing His will over our own and His ways over our ways.

The Struggle

As you know, this not easy. Converting our hearts, souls, and minds to God is a constant battle of letting go, picking ourselves up, and not giving up. We will fall many times but Confession is there to restore ourselves to God. We may fall into routine and boredom, but then we have things like Lent to shake things up for us.

All the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we do during Lent (and hopefully other times during the year) are the catalysts to conversion. They are the outward exercises that prepare and foster our inside exercises.

We are not Alone

If we ask Him, God will always give us the graces we need, even for conversion! We have the intercessions of the Blessed Mother and the saints. And we have each other. There is a lot in this world ready to tear us down and apart; however, as women we should support each other and cheer each other on as we battle the spiritual life. We need that.

Scripture Verses about Conversion

I encourage you to meditate on a few of the following scripture verses. Memorize them and soak them up in your soul. Let them guide you during your own ongoing conversion this Lent.

Go into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that does not believe shall be condemned.” Matthew 16:15

But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit….They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand” Acts 2:38,41

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13

There are many beautiful scriptures about conversion that are perfect for Lent. If you have time, you may want to do a little scripture study on conversion. There are several  online concordances that you can use that will help you do this.

Again, I pray that this glorious season of Lent is a time of grace and blessing for you. I pray that you will draw near to our Lord and turn your heart to Him more and more!

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

5 Reasons for Almsgiving

With Lent comes an emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The rice bowls or other ministry containers come home and we are reminded to take the money we save from fasting and give to the poor. Some people take this seriously and some people don’t. Sadly, for a long time I was one of those who basically ignored the almsgiving portion of Lent.

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Money can be a touchy subject and there are those who think that the Church is all about money. Yes, the Church needs money to run but almsgiving is (and should be) a deeply spiritual act. And, it doesn’t always mean money. If you have limited funds, you can give some of your time or talents or prayers. With a little creativity, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit will inspire you with ideas for almsgiving.

If you need a little nudge, here are three reasons you should start a regular almsgiving regimen:

It’s Biblical

Tithing goes way back to the Old Testament and Jesus mentions the importance of giving several times, including:

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 8:10

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Matthew 5:42

I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21: 3-4

It is an Act of Mercy

Feeding the hungry, give to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, sheltering the homeless, and burying the dead are all corporal works of mercy. Therefore, donating (almsgiving) to organizations that provide these services is, by extension, an act of mercy.

Better yet, you can give the alms of yourself by volunteering at an organization that provide these services. Or, just take some time to visit the elderly in a nursing home or a shut in. I worked with the elderly for a long time and I can assure you, it would be a great gift to them and incredibly rewarding for you! God is enormously generous and we always get more than we give.

It Fosters Gratitude

We all go through different struggles in our lives, some times can be worse than other times. When this happens, it is easy to get tunnel vision which makes past our little world a challenge. When we give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, it can open our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of others. This is especially true if the almsgiving is from our necessities (think of the widow’s mite) and not an afterthought of our surplus.

It Can Help Form a Habit

Hopefully when we start almsgiving at Lent (or any time of the year), it will become a habit of giving and generosity. There are a lot of people who give (especially to food banks) during the Advent/Christmas season but than that falls off. The needy aren’t just needy during the winter holidays (although it is most noticeable then). There are people who need help all through the year.

Therefore, starting to do almsgiving at another time of the year, such as Lent, may help you get you into the spirit of giving on a regular basis.

It Can Strengthen and Enrich our Prayer Life

Or, rather, it should. When we pray, and enter into the heart of God, it is natural to want to spread His love to others, thus making almsgiving an overflow of our prayer life. And when we give alms, it can open our hearts to others and to God in a circle of blessing and grace, thus enriching our prayer life.

There is a reason prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is the trio focus of Lent. All of them, including almsgiving, work together to convert our hearts and our minds to God. If you focus on one or two and ignore the other(s). then you miss out on the fullness of grace that could be yours.

So, I encourage you to prayerfully discern what alms the Lord is asking you to give, be it money, time or talent. And once discerned, have courage to give without cost because, believe me, you will receive so much more than you could ever receive.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.