“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

1 Timothy 2:1

Today, Wednesday, February 14, begins another Lenten season, and how appropriate it should begin on a day associated with love.  No act in history showed greater love for another as Jesus’ dying upon the Cross for the salvation of our souls. As we read in St. John’s Gospel, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (15:13).

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Every Lent, we are encouraged to participate in some way in the three tenets of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (charity). St. Paul reminds us of the important role God has placed upon prayer in the life of the faithful. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3–5).

This year, I would like to propose something that gives those acts even more meaning this Lent. What if we each choose three special intentions for which every prayer, every sacrifice, and every act of charity was offered?

Special Intentions

Imagine the fruit of these 40-plus days if we focused our attention on those things we most desire for our family, our community, our nation, or even our world! I recommend writing down your three most important intentions and each day spending time in prayer with the Lord asking for His graces in each situation or circumstance.

Again, I draw inspiration and encouragement for my Lenten message from St. Paul, who writes, “we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9–10).

As you proceed throughout your day, as you help others, as you pray, or abstain from either meat or whatever penitential offering you are making this Lent, do so purposely attaching your prayer, your sacrifice, your penance, your act of charity for those intentions. Ask the Lord to take any merit or grace found in these Lenten moments toward your three special intentions.

Our Prayers

Remember, there is no greater love we can show others by denying our own needs and desires and offering our work, sacrifices, prayer, and charity for the good of another.

Turning once more to the wisdom of St. Paul for these final words of encouragement for your Lenten journey, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3).

Lenten Resources

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website offers a variety of educational materials, resources, and prayers to help guide your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent. Visit USCCB.org to learn more. Additionally, the Diocese’s Secretariat of the New Evangelization office developed a PDF handout with six Family Lenten Nights, which you can download here, as well as gathered an extensive list of Lenten resources, which you can find here.

May your 2024 Lent be like no other as you journey through these 40 days with prayerful purpose and renewed hope. Please know my prayers are with you all.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River