Next Wednesday in the Church year is Ash Wednesday. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. Guidelines concerning fasting and abstinence are included on our Parish website. 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.
Pope Francis stated that Lent is a time to spiritually renew our lives. As reported in the publication “The Catholic World Report”, he stated in a recent Lenten Message, “Lent is the right time to make room for the Word of God. It is time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from your cell phone and connect to the Gospel.” He challenged us to tune out our worldliness as “…we struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord who speaks to us, the voice of conscience, of good.” Referring to Jesus’ time in the desert, he also stated that Jesus is “calling us into the desert” and, “Prayer, fasting, works of mercy, here is the road into the Lenten desert.”
As we reflect on these sentiments of Our Holy Father, we are encouraged to turn to God and seek spiritual renewal in heart, mind, and body during this important season. We can respond to the challenge to truly strive to turn away from sin and toward the living God, and we can avail ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation. The sacrament is not here to punish us, but rather to get us closer to the God who loves us. It is here to heal, not to condemn, and to get us back on track spiritually. We will provide additional opportunities for the sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten season.
As an aid to our Lenten journey, a schedule of important dates, events, and liturgies during Lent and during Holy Week can be found on the Parish website. Due primarily to the sustained impact of the COVID -19 virus, in these difficult and uncertain times, many of our liturgies, including Stations of the Cross, will have limited in-person restrictions but will also be provided on our website.
As we begin our Lenten journey, please take every opportunity to avail yourself of this special time of grace as we prepare to celebrate the Easter Resurrection of Our Lord.