Catholics Urged to "Do Something Extra This Lent"

Advice From Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor

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LONDON, FEB. 7, 2005 ( Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster is calling on Catholics not just to give something up in Lent but to do something extra — as if their salvation depended on it.

Lent, he will tell his Westminster Cathedral congregation on Ash Wednesday, should not seem interminable because it is a time of dramatic focus.

«Time narrows over the next 40 days,» the archbishop plans to say, «because we become conscious of the bigger drama of life, a drama that ends with death.»

Ash Wednesday «helps us to focus» on that fact, he will add.

The cardinal will urge people to focus not on trying to do without something, but to do something extra in the 40-day period leading into Easter.

The idea of Lent, he will insists, «is that we die with Christ like the seed in the ground and rise with him to more abundant life. We die to sin and rise to integrity.

«We die to selfishness and rise to generosity, especially towards the poor.»

He continues: «Whatever penance we do, whatever we choose to give up or do without, should help us to put on these new clothes, and to grow into stronger, healthier Christians.

«Each one of us should spend more time in prayer during these 40 days; some time in reading a Lenten book about how better to follow Jesus Christ, and some exercise which involves care for others, perhaps a visit to someone less fortunate than we are. What we should give up is whatever stops us doing that extra thing.»

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