Ash Wednesday and the Start of Lent

My Dear Parishioners,

On Wednesday February 14th we will celebrate Ash Wednesday. We will have Masses at 8:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. All 3 Masses will have the distribution of ashes. While Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is the official start to the Lenten Season which is a period of preparation or purification. It is a time when we reflect on what needs to change in our life. Lent is the traditional time to give something up, or to do some additional charitable work or good deed. Fasting (or giving something up) is one way to make ourselves aware of what needs to change in our lives. We fill up our lives with so much excess that often we leave little or no room for God. Fasting clears out space for God to come in. The temptation, once we have created the space will be to fill it with something else, the challenge will be to let that empty space just be and allow God to fill it if He chooses. Fasting is also a way to build the discipline required to live the Christian life, especially in our modern world. It helps us make the difficult or challenging choice; it also helps us grow in our relationship with God. Some people think of discipline as some sort of punishment because it keeps you from doing what you want. A different way to think about it is that discipline helps you to discern what is truly good and it strengthens your will as well.

St. Joseph will continue the practice of offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation every Wednesday in Lent, starting February 21st from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. These Lenten confessions are in addition to the regular Saturday afternoon confessions from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. You might also consider coming to morning Mass at 8:00 a.m. during the week. Even if you can’t make weekday Mass every day, one or two days a week might be just what you need. Or perhaps you can come to church on Mondays when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed from 8:30 a.m. till evening, or join us for Monday night rosary. We will also have Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. Included with Stations we will have benediction, that is, the blessing of the community with Jesus present in the Eucharist. I hope you all have a spiritually fruitful Lent.

Next week, the second collection will be for the Church in Africa. Archbishop Pérez has asked that the following letter be communicated in advance of this collection.

May God Bless You,
Fr. Bordonaro

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa was founded on the basic principles of Saint John Paul II’s call to action in Ecclesia in Africa and the adoption of the statement, A Call to Solidarity with Africa from the Bishops of the United States.

Nations throughout Africa continually face the economic and social hurdles of enormous debt, epidemics, severe poverty, and political unrest. Despite these harsh challenges, Catholicism is flourishing throughout Africa.

Your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa assists in the delivery of basic pastoral care including religious education, seminary formation, and youth ministry. It also supports important projects that provide temporal and pastoral care for the sick.

The collection for the Church in Africa will be conducted in your parish on a weekend during Lent as determined by your Pastor. On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Africa, I am grateful for your continued generosity.

Please pray for me and be assured of my prayers that your Lenten journey will be a fruitful one on the road to Missionary Discipleship for Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

+Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez, D.D.
Archbishop of Philadelphia