Lent is the season when many Catholics try to make their lives a little more virtuous, by sacrificing a favorite treat, being more charitable, or doing their best to change a habit. This year, the priests and parishioners of Kathmandu’s Assumption Church took on the challenge of finding different ways to make Lent more meaningful. Some of the ideas they came up with could well inspire others. Father Silas Bogati, parish priest and director of Caritas Nepal, said “I'm using my bicycle, so I'm fasting from causing pollution.” His assistant, Father Richard Rai said “I'm using my free time to make friends with the elderly. It recharges me.” He has even made his own poster, encouraging people to visit old people. He added: “I'm also trying to choose which hill I should climb with the youth group when we do our uphill `Way of the Cross’ this year.” The parish joined together to bring Lent into focus with a weekend retreat at the church from March 18-20. Afterwards, 81-year old Mrs. Fulmani Rai said she resolved "to fast from worry or fear of illness, from negative and judgmental thoughts and from bitterness and anxiety.” A fellow parishioner, Mrs. Nayantara Bista, said she made up her mind “to renew some strained or old relationships. I'm praying for these people and I've even summoned the courage to phone some of them. Now I realize I should have contacted them earlier.” This is by no means the end of the good ideas for Lent resolutions. Here is a selection of some other tasks the parishioners set themselves: “I used to be too shy to invite my Hindu friends to come and see our church, but this Lent I brought them here. They enjoyed the singing at Mass.” “I started wearing Our Lady’s miraculous medal two weeks ago and I've been visiting Catholics who hardly come to church and giving them these medals.” "I have a Hindu wife and I'm struggling to read the Bhagwad Gita (a Hindu scripture) this Lent, without her knowledge. I'm hoping it will bring more understanding between us." "Along with a few other couples, we're making a point of stopping and greeting parishioners that we've seen for years at the church but never said hello to." "I've been putting on a mask and gloves and picking up trash in the neighborhood. I also planted trees this Lent on a patch of waste land.” Other parishioners took more traditional courses, giving up TV or electronic gadgets, abstaining from entertainment or favorite foods or smoking. Some have opted for reading the Bible daily, going to confession, making devotions or saying the rosary. But everyone at Assumption Church has joined together to make this Lent an extra special time.
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