Lent is the liturgical season for penance and baptismal renewal. Some use Lent as a time to “give something up for Lent.” Some choose to abstain from candy, coffee, pastries, cheese, etc. during the holy season. The Lenten dietary rules are listed below. Some choose to go to additional Holy Masses during the week or add special prayers during the season. Lent is an ideal time to make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession). The Pastoral Region of St. Ann and Sacred Heart will have a communal penance service (many priests hearing confessions) taking place at Sacred Heart on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m.
Ash Wednesday is February 14
Ash Wednesday this year is February 14. This is the beginning of the forty days of Lent. You count the forty days by taking the four days (Ash Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) and adding them to the six weeks of six day (36 days) weeks. Sundays are not counted in the forty days of Lent.
Remember that for the Roman Catholic Church, Easter is determined on the Gregorian Calendar, (not the Julian Calendar as with the Orthodox Christians) and is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the liturgical Spring Equinox, which is March 21. This year the first full moon after March 21 is Saturday, March 31. Easter is therefore Sunday, April 1.
Lenten Dietary Fast and Abstinence Rules
During Lent, Catholics are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays during Lent, and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence simply means “abstaining from meat.” The flesh of mammals and birds (essentially any animal that is warm blooded) is considered meat. The flesh of reptiles, fish (cold blooded), bird “eggs” and cheese are not considered meat. The chicken itself is warm blooded and thus is considered meat. Anyone fourteen years of age or older who will not be physically harmed by the diet is asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays during Lent.
We define fasting for Lenten purposes as meaning eating only one regular meal and two smaller meals or snacks, with no eating between meals. Fasting only applies on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and then only to those between the ages of 18 and 59 who have no medical problem aggravated by the practice.
The Light is On Program
The Light is On Program this year is Tuesday, February 27. As many Catholic Churches as possible will have doors open and lights on from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. At present, I will hear confessions at Sacred Heart starting at the regular Tuesday evening time of 6:30 p.m. and running until 9:00 p.m. At present, we have been unable to find a priest for the 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. time for St. Ann. If we are able to secure a priest, the “lights” will be on at St. Ann as well, but only if we can find a priest.
Catholic Ministries Appeal CMA
If you have not done so already, please consider a gift or a pledge to the CMA. I apologize that the mailings to every household that participated in last year’s CMA were not received by most of you in time for Commitment Sunday last week. The Archdiocese hires a company to see to these mailings. Some have been delivered by the respective post offices while some are waiting to be delivered. As soon as you receive your mailing, please use your pre-printed envelope to make your pledge or donation. If your mailing does not come in the next week, I suggest you simply take one of the CMA envelopes available at church and make your pledge or donation. Please note you have the option for an Electronic Transfer of Funds if you wish, as well as the option to use a credit card. If you wish to mail your envelope, please place a stamp and mail, but please also feel free to bring it and drop it into the collection basket at church. Either method is fine.
The higher the participation rate at each parish, the easier it is for each parish to make its target. If every parish does its part, the Archdiocese can fund the programs that serve the Archdiocese as a whole. Your gift combined with many others, allows the Archdiocese to keep these vital programs funded. Thanks for your prayerful consideration of this worthy cause.
Reflection on Scripture
In the reading from Leviticus, the people are instructed what they must do to stop leprosy. Each individual had a moral obligation to quarantine himself or herself and warn others to stay away from all others as prescribed in the sacred text. In the gospel passage, Jesus heals the leper, but still asks him to follow the Jewish Law with regards to lifting the quarantine. The healed leper goes out and proclaims Jesus as healer.
Each afflicted person infected with leprosy had a moral obligation to self-imposed quarantine. The leprosy of the time of Jesus may be compared to the polio epidemic of the 1940s and 50s. In the latter part of the century, it may have been the AIDS virus. Today I would propose it may be the epidemic of opioid addiction. Providing an illicit drug for oneself or others is a crime; but it is also a sin. As persons who follow the morality of Jesus Christ, we must accept the challenge to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Illicit drugs as well as the abuse of prescription drugs is killing our young as well as disabling our society. As moral principles decay, so the society becomes unproductive and stagnant. As members of the Catholic Church, we have a duty to stand up for the moral principles that define us. Turning our back on the problem is like unleashing a rabid dog into a well-populated community. If we turn a blind eye to the problem, we should feel guilt for every new person infected. Stand for what is right and you stand with Jesus Christ.
Readings for the First Sunday in Lent
1 Pt 3:18-22