Lent is an Experience of Penance
My Dear Parishioners,
I hope that you will have a spiritually satisfying and beneficial Lent. The experience of giving something up for Lent is an experience of penance and it is one type of fasting, but the goal is not to punish us, but rather to make us more aware. It should help us experience our tremendous need for God. While some amount of suffering does tend to bring our minds to what Jesus himself endured, we also know that His suffering has brought about a monumental transformation; so we do not endure any suffering in vain, or alone. Lent is also a good time to add something to our spiritual life. For example you might consider coming to our daily Mass at 8:00 a.m. If not every weekday, how about 2 or 3 days a week? Or perhaps you might pray the rosary, or come to our regular Monday night devotions at 7:30 p.m. In addition to our regular Saturday Confessions from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., we will have opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession every Wednesday in Lent (except Ash Wednesday) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Church is open during the day, so you can just stop in and make a Holy Hour (by the way, the Sanctuary of the Altar is still alarmed with motion detectors so please do not approach the altar or the statues unless you know for certain that the alarm is deactivated), or come on Monday’s when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar. We also pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent at 7:30 p.m. and then conclude with Benediction (which is a blessing from Jesus himself in the Consecrated Eucharist). It is a moving way to help the entire family prepare for our celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. We also have put out our Rice Bowls at the church exits. Please take one home for your family (some assembly required). The idea behind the rice bowl is that you forgo a larger meal on one or more days of the week, opting to have a simpler meal like soup and/or sandwich, or fast altogether, and then the money that you saved on that meal goes into the Rice Bowl. At the end of Lent you then bring in the bowl and make a donation which goes to Catholic Relief Services to help provide for those most seriously in need.
Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday, February 26th. While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is an important day in the liturgical year because it begins the season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. You do not need to be Catholic, or even in the state of grace to receive ashes. You should simply have a sincere desire to change or repent. The practice comes to us from the Jewish tradition of penance and fasting where penitents would wear ashes on their head. The ashes were symbolic of the dust from which we were made. The ashes also remind us that we have sinned and separated ourselves from God, so they should be received with a spirit of understanding that my sins have put a barrier between me and God, and I want that barrier removed.
The Bishops of the United States prescribe, as minimal obligation, that all persons who are fourteen years of age and older are bound to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 on all the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday. Further, all persons eighteen years of age and older, up to and including their fifty-ninth birthday, are bound to fast by limiting themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, while the other two meals on those days are to be light. All the faithful are encouraged, when possible, to participate at Mass and to receive the Holy Eucharist daily, to celebrate frequently the Sacrament of Penance, to undertake spiritual reading, especially the study of the Sacred Scriptures, and to participate in parish Lenten devotions. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is especially recommended. All are encouraged to participate in Operation Rice Bowl which has aided countless hungry persons here in the Archdiocese as well as throughout our nation and our world.
May God Bless You,