The Holy Spirit can be very creative when sending needed messages. This Mindwalk is the result of a conversation with a close friend.

Lent 2024 began last week with an “Aha!” moment. I was struck by the Priest’s opening prayer for the Ash Wednesday mass.

Grant, oh Lord that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service.

The Roman Missal

I had never considered Lent as a season of service. We traditionally think of Lent as prayer, fasting and almsgiving. How does this work as a campaign (project?) of service?


Prayer is first of all listening to God. In prayer, we step back to remember who we are as God’s sons and daughters, who we are as sisters and brothers. This prayer is not prayer of supplication or that of asking God for things. This prayer is a way of stepping back from goals and plans and seeing ourselves as we are and seeing God’s vision of us.

Our first step toward service is to listen to God instead of to ourselves. To begin to see ourselves clearly.


Jesus gives us the example. We go into the desert like Jesus, cut off from things that hinder us from living fully. This prayer of listening helps us to discover what holds us back. Is it the things that we own? Is it alcohol? Maybe it’s self-centeredness, or pride. Stepping away from these things is fasting. Fasting is living for awhile in the desert. Fasting is letting go of things we cling to.


This letting go leads to almsgiving. I used to limit my understanding of almsgiving to financial assistance. Now I see that almsgiving is paying attention to the needs of others and acting on that need. What does my brother or sister need? Is it a meal or companionship? Is it a ride to the store or the doctor? Is it financial support to pay the bills? Letting go frees us to act as we are meant to be, and do. Letting go frees us so that we can see ourselves and others as brothers and sisters because we are God’s children.

And what might be the reason of this “campaign of Christian service”? I believe it is to build community. We build community just because those near and far are our brothers and sisters. We seek to build a community of God’s children everywhere.

As we live Lent 2024 consider these things:

  • Who am I? Do I truly believe that I am God’s beloved child?
  • Do I see humans around me as God’s children? Do I see them as my brothers and sisters?
  • How do I step away from those things in my life that hinder living fully as God’s child?
  • When I pay attention to the needs of my brothers and sisters, how do I best serve them?

Have you ever thought of Lent as being oriented towards building community or in service of others?