Dear Parishioners: “It’s like déjà vu all over again!” as Yogi Berra once famously stated. Another Monday and another snowstorm. Another Monday and no school. It seems that winter really wants to make an impact in 2015! Thankfully for our many school families this week also marks the annual winter school vacation. It arrives just in time for more snow and severe cold temperatures! I hope this time is truly a time of rest and refreshment for our school teachers and school children.
We begin Lent his week on Ash Wednesday. Our annual “retreat” from the ordinary routine of life into a robust conversion to Christ. It is a time of deeper prayer, renewed penance, profound sacrifice and bountiful good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican Council II states, "The two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent -- the recalling of baptism or the preparation for it, and penance.” This Wednesday we begin the solemn fast of forty days as we: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” As ashes are imposed on our foreheads we are reminded that we “are dust and to dust we shall return.” A time of up penance and prayer with greater fervor begins. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence and we are to refrain from eating any meat. Also Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast which require us to eat less. The guide to these important practices is found in the bulletin this week.
During Lent we strive to sacrifice in imitation of Our Lord. He prayed and fasted for forty days in the desert and so we are called to do the same. What should we fast from this Lent? Alcohol or candy? Television or tobacco? Dessert or junk food? What pleasure should be sacrificed from for forty days? It is the traditional practice of Catholics to “give something up” during Lent. It is a good practice but perhaps we also need to take something on this Lent. What should we take on this Lent? Attending Daily Mass at 7:30AM or 12:05PM? Extra prayer at home before we start our day? Reading the Sacred Scriptures daily? Praying the Rosary? Making the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:00PM?
Also we called to give alms during Lent as we are more mindful of poor and needy. There are many ways to support the good works of our Church through our charity and service to the poor. Traditionally we take up the Rice Bowl Collection for Catholic Relief Services during Lent. It is a way to help those who have no food. Placing these simple bowls on our tables and depositing not only our spare coins and surplus dollar bills in them but perhaps by sacrificing a costly pleasure to ensure food for the hungry is a good practice for any family. Also during Lent we can support the good works of our local Church through the Catholic Charity Appeal. We are to take up this collection beginning on the first weekend of March. We might also support the good works and efforts of OLM Parish Outreach. We have scheduled an Outreach drive for new blankets for the homeless at Emmanuel House during the month of March. All good ways to help the poor and needy with alms.
There are three Masses on Ash Wednesday: 7:30AM, 12:05PM and 7:00PM. Ashes are to be imposed at each of them. We begin the extra Lenten Daily Mass at 12:05PM on Wednesday for all of Lent. Consider adding Daily Mass to your schedule! We are encouraged to go to Confession during Lent. At OLM Confessions are heard Saturdays at 3PM and Mondays at 6PM. In Lent there are two priests available (one parish priest and a guest priest) on Mondays. Also Confessions will be heard from 11:45PM until Noon each weekday before Mass. Lent is a good time to get to Confession! Our Parish Lenten Mission is scheduled for the week of March 21st with Fr. Mike Najim, Spiritual Director at OLP Seminary and LaSalle Academy Chaplain, as our preacher. Lent is coming! Are we ready? Our time to pray, fast and give alms. Let us take up the cross for forty days and renew our faith! God Bless.