Next Wednesday in the Church year is Ash Wednesday. It is a day of fasting and abstinence. Guidelines concerning fasting and abstinence are included in our Parish bulletin and 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.
Many people will attend Church on this day to receive ashes as they strive to enter into the spirit of the season.
Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Lent is a time to spiritually renew our lives. As reported in the publication “America”, he stated in a recent Lenten Message, “During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the ‘living water’ of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ.” He further noted, “This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes, and decisions of the followers of Christ.”
As we reflect on these insightful words of Our Holy Father, we are encouraged to strive to unite our hearts with the Lord in a very substantive way. During this special time in the Church year, we can therefore turn to God and seek spiritual renewal in heart, mind, and body through the disciplines of Lent: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting
if we are physically able. 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 Holy Week can be found on the Parish website. During this journey, we are challenged to go beyond our comfort zones and experience the love and mercy of the Lord in a very profound way. Please take every opportunity to avail yourself of this special time of grace as we prepare to celebrate the Easter Resurrection of Our Lord.