Our liturgical calendar is filled with saints who lived colorful lives of extraordinary grace. They serve as models of the Christian life for us. They are “raised to the altars” precisely to show us that we, too, can give our lives over to Jesus and have our actions animated by His Spirit.
In the season of Lent, we are called to examine our lives, turn away from sin, and renew our commitment to living as Christ taught us. Traditionally, we are invited to engage in three practices that Jesus recommends to us in Matthew 6: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. By embracing these practices, we can refresh our spiritual lives.
Many of the saints made such practices the center of their lives. Though we might not match the extremes to which the saints took these disciplines, we can still learn from their spirit. Let’s look at three saints whose feast days are celebrated during Lent, and whose lives were exemplars of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.
Almsgiving – Katherine Drexel
Almsgiving is the practice of giving to those in need. (The English word “alms” comes from the Greek eleēmosunē, “compassion,” the root of which is eleos, “mercy.”) The Christian tradition tells us that we have a duty to provide for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. (See Exodus 22-23, or James 1.) Some saints have gone so far as to not only give of their excess, but to give all to the poor.
St. Katharine Drexel, whom we celebrate on March 3, was an American heiress born just before the Civil War. She gave up her wealth (equivalent to $200 million today!) and entered a convent. She had a heart for missions, and devoted her life to serving Native Americans and African Americans, opening schools for them across the country.
Read more at Aleteia