From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy:
Next Wednesday in the Church year is Ash Wednesday. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of people as a reminder of human mortality and as a sign of repentance and contrition. It marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is the time, approximating forty days, of reflection and penance leading up to Easter. One of our leading Catholic scholars has described Lent as the desert time in the Church year. He reminds us that the desert time can be for us an opportunity to reflect on who we are and why we are here. It takes many of us a while to absorb the reality of the Christian vision: that we are children of God called to announce in word and deed the favor of the Lord. But the desert can also have its dangers. It can be a place of desolation, a place of loneliness. And we certainly can be tempted when we are vulnerable and isolated.
Each of us struggle against temptation and sin, and it can be a daily struggle. For many of us, it may be the temptations of excess food or drink. It may be our questionable taste in music or movies or television programs. It may be our bad temper or use of bad language. It may be our laziness or some form of prejudice. We may struggle in these and many other ways. Therefore we are challenged to acknowledge our struggles and recognize that we are all sinners and need help in battling our temptations, especially during this season of Lent. We are challenged to resist our temptations, especially the temptation to slide through Lent as thoughtlessly and carelessly as possible. We are encouraged to take Lent seriously and acknowledge our own shortcomings, and guard against them.
During this special time in the Church year, we can therefore turn to God and seek renewal in heart, mind, and body through the disciplines of Lent: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting if we are physically able. We can respond to this challenge to live a Christian life and truly turn away from sin and towards the living God.
We are called to strive to resist the many temptations of this world as we strive to unite our hearts to the Lord. We are especially encouraged to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and during this Lenten season, once again return to His loving embrace.
Fr. Neil Herlih