My Dear Parishioners,
I hope that you 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 begins this week on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22nd. Ashes will be blessed and distributed at our Masses which will be celebrated at 8:00 a.m. and also at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. 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 the prayer to St. Joseph. In addition to our regular Saturday Confessions from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., we will have opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession every Wednesday in Lent 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 Mondays when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar (after the 8:00 a.m. Mass until the Monday night rosary at 7:30 p.m.). 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.
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, 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.
Here are some FAQ’s about Lent from the US Bishops: They can be found at http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical- year/lent/questions-and-answers-about-lent.cfm
Q. Why do we say that there are forty days of Lent? When you count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46.
A. It might be more accurate to say that there is the “forty day fast within Lent.” Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.
Q. So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?
A. Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.
Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as Does meat include chicken and dairy products?
A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.
Q. I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?
A. Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.
Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?
A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.
May God Bless you,