Lent is around the corner…
This upcoming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. With the Holy Mass at 9 am and 7 pm, and with the distribution of the ashes we begin Lent. It’s a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
What are the Lenten rules of abstaining and fasting?
In this context, abstinence refers to “abstaining” from meat on Fridays during Lent. Whereas Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday with just one large meal, Catholics must refrain from eating meat on other Fridays, though they can have three full meals. Those ages 18-59, in reasonable health, are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Those 14 and older must abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. Canon Law does mention that for young children not fasting, parents should still communicate the meaning of fasting and penance.
Many already know of these traditions of Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God’s gifts – not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” (CCC 2446).
There will be a few significant changes during Lent in our church and in our celebrations:
- No flowers around the altar or by the holy statues.
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – every Friday between 9:45 am and 7 pm.
- Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays after morning Mass and Fridays at 7:15 pm (The Perpetual Help Novena prayer will be said a few minutes before morning Mass on Wednesdays)
- The Precious Blood of Jesus will be distributed at every Mass (weekends and weekday celebrations) – if you are Eucharistic Minister, please help us with that.
- The faithful are asked to bring the gifts to the altar at weekends as well weekday celebrations.
Please pray for our catechumens and candidates for the sacraments. In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment, as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics or to make full communion with Jesus and His Church.
May Jesus lead us through this holy season of Lent and change our hearts so we could love Him and only Him. May these holy disciplines of Lent help us to know Jesus and ourselves, to know Him more and ourselves, and serve Him and our brothers and sisters with more open and loving spirit. Happy Lent to you!