Dear Parishioners: This Wednesday we begin the Solemn Fast of Lent. The forty days of prayer, fasting and alms-giving as we prepare spiritually for the great and glorious celebration of Easter. Are you ready for Lent? Are you prepared to pray more, fast more and give more alms for the next forty days? We begin this sacred season on Ash Wednesday as ashes are smeared on our foreheads. We are reminded of our own mortality as we receive the ashes: “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.” It is a time for us to repent, turn away from sin and selfishness and convert our lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have a full schedule for Lent at OLM including an extra daily Mass at 12:05pm, Confessions every day Monday through Friday, guest Confessors on Monday nights, Stations of the Cross every Friday and a Lenten Mission from March 25-29, preached by Fr. Christopher O’Connor.
Fr. O’Connor is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston who serves as the Vice-Rector of St. John’s Seminary in Boston. He is a talented and dynamic preacher who has a terrific Irish wit. So mark your calendar now that you might make the Mission this year, you won’t regret it!
Lent is all about doing extra and sacrificing more in an effort to repent of our sin and renew our relationship with the Lord. For forty days, we are asked to pray more, come to Mass more, go to Confession and receive God’s mercy, forgiveness and love.
Lent is truly a wonderful opportunity to refocus our lives on what is important and lasting, our relationship with God. We are called to deepen our faith and commitment by conversing more with our God in prayer, renew ourselves by making acts of penance and sacrificing from pleasures and comforts, take up fasting and abstaining from meat. We do all this and much more not to beat ourselves up but rather to deepen our Catholic Faith and convert our lives more fully to Jesus Christ.
We are also called during Lent to consider the plight of the poor and needy. We do this by sacrificing to help them with our love and bountiful charity. So take a Rice Bowl home and fill it not from your surplus coins but give up a meal out so a hungry child in Africa might have food to eat. Please make a donation to the Catholic Charity Appeal so a homeless addict has a warm bed and a hot meal. Please consider making a generous donation to the OLM Outreach so a local family might be helped in their time of need with food, heating or rent assistance. All of these are terrific ways to give alms during Lent.
There is much information about Lent and the Lenten Schedule at OLM in the bulletin. Clip the schedule out and put it on your refrigerator. Also find the guidelines for Abstinence and Fasting during Lent are available to guide you. Read all this information carefully so you may properly prepare for the solemn fast of forty days beginning this Wednesday.
In his Annual Message for Lent, our Holy Father, Pope Francis writes to us the following for our reflection:
“Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.
I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.”
Yes, Easter will indeed be all the more joyful and glorious if we faithfully take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow the example of the Lord in Lent. Pray! Fast! Give Alms! Live Lent 2017 to the fullest and your faith is to surely deepen and your relationship with Christ is to surely be renewed. The forty days are coming soon, so “Repent and believe in the Gospel!”
Next week we kickoff the Catholic Charity Appeal at all Masses. OLM usually leads the Diocese in supporting this very important charity of our Church. I thank you once again for your support this year. Be well. Do good. God Bless. Lent is coming, are you ready yet?!