The Threefold Path: Prayer, Fasting & Alms

Every year on Ash Wednesday, Christians around the globe receive a smudge or cross of ashes on their foreheads and are reminded they are dust and unto dust they shall return.  It is a reminder that the things of this world are passing and that our destination in life is union with the God who made each of us. In light of this, we are asked to grow closer to God in our hearts and our lives by a simple threefold path: prayer, fasting and alms.   These three spiritual actions are the tools which can help us enter into the depth of our being, helping to rid ourselves of the fullness of ego and allowing ourselves to be filled with the fullness of God.  As we have seen in the lives of the millions of spiritual seekers who have gone before us and have followed this threefold path, these actions are not meant to be spiritual gymnastics or tests of bodily endurance. They are the means by which we are able to open our hearts and eyes to a daily encounter with God in the face of our brothers and sisters.  They are the means by which the spiritual life may be transformed from one of contemplation to a life of action.   One of the greatest rewards given to all who support the work of Cross Catholic Outreach is the ability to walk this pilgrimage of faith with our sisters and brothers throughout the world who are part of our ministry projects, and to learn from their power of example.  The villagers of Los Chilitos and La 46 in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala teach me the meaning of a true spiritual life each time I have the privilege of being among them.   In their simple and profound understanding of the threefold path, these villages of 300 families decided to fast and pray so they might be able to hear the words of God for their lives.  Villagers spent days and nights in the chapel in prayer. Men and women fasted – even though their food resources were already very meager.   And, in this instance, God answered their prayers and fasting with the news that Cross Catholic Outreach would dig them a well and have water piped directly to their homes.  This was the answer to more than thirty years of such prayer – years in which the area’s women had been waiting up to ten hours to fill buckets of water from the single meager source of safe water.   In the face of this hardship, they never doubted the love of their God and His power to intervene as He knew best for them. And they celebrated God’s love by sharing with each other that precious source of life as they sought how best to allow access for each family.  They understood the meaning of giving alms.  May this holy Lenten season be a gift to each one of us that we might understand the true meaning of the path of prayer, fasting and giving alms.  May we open our hearts to the will of God like our sisters and brothers in Guatemala!   This Lent, please join with Cross Catholic Outreach so that together we can share the gift of hope with children throughout the developing world.