From the time of the Scriptures, the number 40 has designated a privileged time for prayer, reflection, and renewal. Forty days is an opportune time for us to turn to God once again and start over on the journey of faith.
On March 6th, the Church will begin the Holy Season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The mark of the ashes recalls our origin in the dust of the earth. Drawn on the forehead in the Sign of the Cross, the ashes also remind us of Christ's triumph over sin and death. On Ash Wednesday our parish Masses will be at 8 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. On this day, the Gospel will encourage us in the 3 disciplines of Lent: prayer, fasting, and works of mercy.
On Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, Catholics who have reached the age of 14 are asked to refrain from eating meat. On Ash Wednesday, those between the ages of 18 and 59 are also asked to eat one full meal over the course of the day and to refrain from eating between meals.
In our parish, we have provided a number of devotional books to assist with prayer at home. We will also pray the Stations of the Cross each Friday at 5:30 p.m. On Sundays, March 10th and 24th, we will provide an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration, following the 10:30 a.m. Mass and concluding with a Holy Hour and Benediction at 4 p.m. Many people might also participate at a weekday Mass from time to time.
While the traditional Lenten fasting is from food, it might be more helpful for some to abstain from practices that have diminished our lives, such as technology or social media or 24-hour news channels, from murmuring, gossip, nagging, or quarreling, from fault-finding, lying, or other activities that weight us down.
In our parish, we encourage use of the Rice Bowl as a way of providing for the needy who are served by our parish and the needy who are served by Catholic Relief Services in far-away places. We will also be gathering items for the pantry at St. Paul Parish in Marty, a place that was specially loved by St. Katharine Drexel. Of course, our parish commitment to The Banquet, St. Francis House, and Bishop Dudley Hospitality House will continue during this holy season.
Each Friday of Lent, following the Knights of Columbus fish dinner, we will view a DVD series by Bishop Robert Barron on the Mass. On Sundays at 6 p.m., Deacon Denny will offer a DVD series on the teachings of Pope Francis. This same DVD series will be used at our 6:30 a.m. gathering on Wednesdays. On Saturday, March 16th, we will host Dr. Christopher Burgwald for a teaching on prayer.
So, here we are again. We know that there are many areas of our world and our hearts that are not yet redeemed. Our Lord and His Church invite us to 40 days of reflection, repentance and renewal. This really is a privileged time for growth in the Spirit. Please join me in praying for the life of our Church and our world.