Want to change someone's life who is poor in spirit, hope, and faith during Lent? Not sure where to start? This article will help.

Lent is so much more than simply "giving up" something. It can be a transformational experience of "giving to" others and "giving of" yourself. Consider praying, meditating, and offering spiritual charity to others through Sacred Conversations. Help someone who is spiritually "poor" with charitable acts of loving conversation during Lent. 

Acts of Charity: An Example

Let's say your brother and his wife have decided to get a divorce. It doesn't matter why. What matters is that two people who loved each other, had children, and built a life together are going to end a sacramental relationship. She has decided to go become a self-admiring social media "influencer," and your brother is heart-broken. Not to mention their children are confused, scared, and angry.

Your brother feels like he has let himself, his family, and God down. He's grieving the loss of his wife. He's full of regret and despair. How can a Sacred Conversation help? 

Sacred Conversations are acts of charity. They are intentional conversations between someone seeking comfort, hope and strength, and another who is willing to listen, guide, and communicate with compassion. These intentional forms of human dialogue are perfect spiritual practices for the Lenten season. The test us. They strengthen us. And they bring us closer to God.

A Different Kind of Charity

 According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and alms giving. It’s a time to prepare for the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. 

We typically think of charity or almsgiving as material acts of mercy for those less fortunate. These include things like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, or caring for the sick. These material acts of mercy are important and we should practice them always--especially during Lent.

But we can also offer people who are "poor in spirit" spiritual acts of mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and  "a work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462). As Christians we are also called to offer "spiritual works of mercy" for those who are poor in spirit.

The Catechism defines such works of mercy accordingly:

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. 

Sounds like a Sacred Conversation fits this description, doesn't it? 

Give Your Brother a Sacred Conversation

What would a spiritual act of mercy look like for you and your brother this Lent? 

Console Your Brother

Start your act of mercy and consolation with intention. Sacred Conversations are intentional. That means you and your brother need to talk with purpose. Your intention is to help. But you can't help if you don't know what your brother needs. So ask him! Meditate on your intention to help and listen with an open ear and open heart. Choose the right time and place for the conversation. 

Chances are, if your brother is heart-broken, it's because he is experiencing loss--the loss of love. What would bring him comfort in his time of grief?

Start with his intention and let the spirit of charity guide your listening and response to him. Keep in mind that your brother might not even know what consolation or comfort he needs.

Comfort Your Brother

Life is uncomfortable. But we can use Sacred Conversations to ease the discomfort. After inviting your brother to coffee or to dinner and exploring his intention for taking you up on your invitation, ask questions. What comfort does he seek? 

Solace in times of worry: Try to understand his source of worry. Keep asking questions and let him talk it out. Offer assistance and support where you can to ease his worries. This too shall pass.

Strength in times of weakness: Reflect back to him all that is good, right, and strong in him and his relationships with his friends, family, and his children. Help him find the strength for gratitude and forgiveness.

Encouragement in times of helplessness: Ask questions that help him see a way forward. How does your brother know when he's having a good day vs. a bad day? What is it about those days that gives him hope? Ask questions that invite light and love to enter the darkness. Offer him some comfort in Jesus. Psalm 23 is a great place to start! 

Instruct and Advise Your Brother

Be careful with this one. "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Col 4:6). 

Your brother might not want or need advice. This is where you must exercise "self-control" during Lent. "Give up" your desire to jump in, to tell your story, or to tell him what he ought to do. He might not be ready to hear your instruction. Be gracious and light-handed with your advice, should you be moved to offer some. If you sense that he needs or wants direction, consider the following: 

  • Start your advice like this: "Have you thought about...?"
  • Avoid starting your advice like this: "You know what you need to do is..."

Parting Wisdom

Sacred Conversations are acts of mercy, love, and charity. Be a Helper this Lenten season to all who are poor in spirit around you. Start a Sacred Conversation about something that matters to someone around you. Give your time, talents, and compassion to others.

If you want more inspiration for prayer, meditation, and action this Lent, download my Sacred Conversations Guided Lenten Reflections. The FREE 47-page pdf. has 40 days of inspirational scripture and reflection questions for starting conversations that matter this Lent Feb 22-Easter Sunday. God Bless you and yours.

About the author 

Christopher Reed, Ph.D.

Author of "Sacred Conversations: How God Wants us to Communicate."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Join the Conversation!