Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and for Christians that means the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. It is a season of penance when we engage in practices that help us detach from certain excesses or pleasures so that we might create more space in our hearts for the things of God. The word “penance” is defined as the virtue or disposition of heart by which one repents of one’s own sins and is converted to God.
The season of Lent invites us to embrace penitential practices. These kinds of practices, such as observing the days of fasting and abstinence, help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart. Observing the Church’s penitential practices is one of the precepts (laws) of the Church. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert, after his baptism when he was preparing for his public ministry (CCC n. 540). The Lenten Season is particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works). The practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the traditional spiritual disciplines in which Christians engage during Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs until the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night. The Church then enters the Triduum (the three days) leading up to Easter Sunday. The Easter Vigil, celebrated after dark on Holy Saturday night, is the first celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord and is the “mother of all liturgies.” I invite you to use the season of Lent as a time to recommit your heart to Christ and to prepare for the celebration of the mysteries of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection that we commemorate at Easter.
Ash Wednesday Masses and distribution of ashes will be at 6:30am, 8:15am (school Mass) and 7pm. I pray that this season of preparation for Easter proves to be a prayerful time of renewal and conversion of heart.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,