February 12, 2018

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of Lent

On Wednesday, February 14th, we begin our Lenten penance. We will hear the words of the Prophet Joel, who says: Even now, says the Lord, Return to me with your whole heart, With fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments,  And return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he,  Slow to anger, rich in kindness, And relenting in punishment.

What strategy will you adopt in order to “rend your heart, not your garments”? The Church suggests that we 1) increase our prayer; 2) deny ourselves pleasure, by abstinence and fasting; 3) perform works of mercy and charity.

The Fridays of the Season of Lent are days of abstinence from eating meat. Anyone who is fourteen years of age is obliged to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence, which means that we eat only one full meal that day (and two smaller meals) and abstain from meat. All adults up to the age of sixty are obliged to fast and abstain. Fasting on these days, however, is still recommended for children and seniors.
This year we join with the whole Diocese in the Living the Eucharist program of renewal. If you are wondering what you can do to increase your prayer and spiritual reading during Lent, this program is a perfect opportunity. On Ash Wednesday, everyone who comes to Mass will receive a copy of the small book, Exodus to Easter, which contains daily prayers and reflections for Lent.
To be reconciled with God, and with the Church, and with one another, is a very important part of our Lenten penance. We humble ourselves and put away our pride by admitting our sins and weaknesses. That’s our part of the process. But it is so important that we allow God the opportunity to do His part, and speak to us words of forgiveness and peace. Because God is “slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.”
Each Friday, from 4:00 to 5:00, and each Saturday, from 11:00 to 11:50, and from 4:15 to 5:00, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available at the Cathedral. On Monday evening, March 19th, at 7:00 PM, we will have our Lenten Penance Service and there will be the opportunity for individual confession. We will have several Priests on hand to assist us. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to Easter Sunday.