By Jennifer Brinker | firstname.lastname@example.org | twitter: @jenniferbrinker
As Pope Francis described in his 2017 Lenten message, "Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ's victory over death.
"This season urgently calls us to conversion," he wrote. "Christians are asked to return to God 'with all their hearts' (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord."
As we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1, how do we prepare our hearts for conversion and the path to Easter? Turning toward prayer, through the Scriptures, is one solid suggestion.
You raise a valid point, to wit, that the penitential nature of these two days ought not to be compromised.
However, there are a couple of points:
• Church law does define Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days on which Catholics must fast, but not all Catholics. Only those aged 18-59 are obligated to fast, and even then, those whose health would be seriously injured by a strict fast are allowed to consume as much food as necessary.
Fish fries -- a tradition that brings together Catholics who abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent -- follow a similar path at most parishes and Knights of Columbus halls, with a few extras thrown in with a local flavor. All offer fellowship and, especially for volunteers, a chance to get to know other parishioners.