Lent is a time to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving — the three spiritual practices of the Lenten season.
One way the Archdiocese of Louisville hopes to encourage these practices is through a newly-created interactive website.
The site — www.givingitup.weebly.com — serves as a resource of information about Lent. Visitors can watch videos of local Catholics detailing what they are giving up or something extra they will try to do during Lent.
And visitors can upload their own videos filmed with a camera, webcam or cell phone.
The idea behind the site is two-fold, explained Sal Della Bella, director of the Office of Evangelization. First, it provides an opportunity for people to publicly witness the practices of their faith, and secondly it provides information about why Catholics do what they do.
The goal of the site, Della Bella said, is to help people understand that what you do for Lent matters less than coming to understand “we all depend on God and God’s presence in our life. It’s a recognition of our own humanity and inability to control everything.”
Viewers of the site are encouraged to post short videos of their Lenten sacrifice. A tab titled “Click Here and Attach Your Video” is prominent and directions will guide you through the quick process, Della Bella said.
“We might get more viewers than uploads but that also gets people thinking about what they might do if they haven’t already thought what to do,” he said in an interview last week.
Users are encouraged to use the hashtag #givingitup when sharing on social media sites.
If people are unable or simply do not wish to create a video, a simple email using the format “My name is … and this year I will … because … ” may also be submitted. The text will be displayed alongside the videos.
Visitors to the site also can view informational videos under the “Suggestions” tab. The first features Paulist Father Jack Collins of Busted Halo. The four-and-a-half minute video titled “You don’t know Jack! about Lent” features Father Collins as he stops people in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
The priest asks passersby several questions including: “Why are you wearing ashes?” “When you think of Lent, what do you think of?” and “What are the three practices the church suggests we do during Lent based on the teachings of Jesus?”
The second video features Basilian Father Thomas Rosica of Salt and Light TV. In the five-minute and 50-second video titled “Ash Wednesday: Why it took 40 days,” Father Rosica discusses why Catholics pray, fast, sacrifice and give alms during Lent.
Father Rosica, who serves as the English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, says through the exercise of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, “we spring clean our lives, sharpen our senses, put tomorrow in its place and treasure the day at hand.”
One video is light hearted and the other is more serious, but both videos discuss serious topics that Catholics ponder during this holy time of preparing for the Savior’s death upon the cross.
Also under the “Suggestions” tab, there are links to frequently asked questions about Lent from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a daily Lenten calendar also from the USCCB, a listing of Lenten activities throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville and a calendar of local fish fries. There is also a link to catholicseekers.org, a website for those who are thinking of joining the Catholic faith and those who wish to return to Catholicism.
Della Bella said he hopes the site deepens the spiritual lives of people and serves as a reminder, not only of “what we do as Catholics, but why we do them.”
“Whether it be giving up chocolate, spending more time in prayer or helping someone in need, we are mindful that we are not the only people here. It’s about how we bring the love of God and the love of other people to the world,” he said.