Lent begins this Wednesday!
Yep, you read that correctly. It felt like we just got finished with Christmas and…bam…here we go into the season of Lent. Let’s figure this out.
(Mass on Ash Wednesday)
The Season of Lent begins this Wednesday with ashes. We will have four Masses for Ash Wednesday, our regular schedule of 6:15 and 8:15 (live-streamed), noon and 7pm. Ashes are what is called a sacramental, it is the most democratic (small “d”) of Catholic things insofar as ANYONE and EVERYONE is
welcome to receive ashes. Ash Wednesday Mass is the perfect way to begin this
season, so make plans to attend.
THE BASICS (Fast and Abstinence)
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. (I’m old and exempt, but then again, you are as young as you feel and as young as you fast.) Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year and applies for every Friday in Lent.
THE THREE DISCIPLINES (Prayer, Self-Denial and Almsgiving)
Prayer. I would like for each and every one of you to consider during the 40 Days of Lent your life of prayer. Prayer centers us. Prayer prods and provokes us. Prayer calms us. Prayer challenges us. How will you deepen your relationship with God in prayer this Lent? What about starting your day with daily Mass at 6:15 or 8:15? It is a fantastic way to start your day. There are also parishes around that offer noon and evening Masses. What about (gently) inviting a friend who has been away from church to a Sunday liturgy? Most of the people I know who are faithful churchgoers began by going with friends. What a great gift of friendship! What about taking an hour on Tuesdays in front of the Blessed Sacrament? That discipline has made a big difference in the lives of many of our parishioners here at Holy. What about being more faithful to meal prayers with your family? Sometimes the simplest of actions are the mostprofound. I cannot tell you how much of my upbringing was formed by our meal prayer (which rivaled the rosary at times). Speaking about the rosary, what about praying it on the way to work? There are tons of apps which lead you to a deeper life of prayer. What about downloading one of them? There are so many possibilities!
Self-denial. Even secular culture agrees that self-denial is vital for a happy, fulfilled life. Give something up. Self-denial is such an important part of one’s spiritual life. First of all, it builds grit. You set a goal for yourself and you struggle to maintain that goal. Second, it teaches us that there are many things in our lives that seem essential and indispensable, but really aren’t. This is so freeing. Lastly, giving up something is good for your soul. Write down what you are giving up and give it to one other person so that they can keep you honest.
Almsgiving. There are so many different possibilities here. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society. Our PIP (Parents in Partnership) drive. Any number of things our Haiti committee is doing. Operation Rice Bowl. I know a lot of you give and give generously already. You know how important that is to your relationship with God. As the Scriptures say: God loves a joyful giver.
This year, I will be trying something new. Join me after the 8:15 Mass on Tuesdays during Lent for a seven week Bible study in the rectory dining room. I am going to make it very simple. First, you can critique my homily from the prior week (what did you like, what didn’t you like, what didn’t you understand) and then we will look at the readings for the next week and discuss what they mean to prepare my homily for the following Sunday. There is no cost and each session will end by 10 am. The dates are February 20 and 27, March 5, 12, 19, and 26, and April 2. No need for reservations, just show up and we will take it from there.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT
“The devil wishes to assure some people that there’s no need for repentance, and others that there’s no hope for mercy. Some people are deceived into thinking they are too good for the gospel while others are accused into thinking they are too bad for the gospel.”
— Russell D. Moore
You are neither too good nor too bad. Thus, you need the good news. Thus, you need Lent!