Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent: the liturgical season marked by increased prayer, fasting (self-denial), almsgiving, and acts of mercy. It is immediate preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and remote preparation for citizenship in Heaven – to be with God forever.
Though it is not a day upon which we are obliged to attend Holy Mass, many people do come to church for the celebration of the Eucharist and ashes. Many people also come for the Liturgy of the Word prayer services and ashes, as well. These liturgies at which we gather remind us that though we have been redeemed by the saving action of Christ, we are always a people who are in need of God’s mercy. We are not yet “saved,” as some Christians believe, claiming that they no longer need to have concern about their salvation. Our belief as Catholics is that our salvation is worked out, day-by-day, with our ultimate reliance upon the mercy of God who wills to save us. The state of our soul when we leave this life is very important.
Here at St. Paul’s Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Church at 8.00AM and ashes will be distributed at that Mass. That will be the only mass for the day, but ashes will also be distributed at 7.30AM in the Church. There will be services at which ashes will be distributed at 12.15 and 5.30 and 7.30. In addition to these times of services ashes will be available in the Chapel throughout the whole day. Simply come to the Chapel and the priest will give you the ashes.
So in summary: ASHES WILL BE DISTRIBUTED IN THE CHURCH ON ASH WEDNESDAY AT 7.30AM; DURING THE 8.00AM MASS, AT SERVICES AT 12.15; 5.30, AND 7.30. ASHES WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE IN THE CHAPEL THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DAY (OTHER THAN THE MASS AND SERVICE TIMES) IN THE CHAPEL.
Some traditional Lenten prayer practices in which we may wish to participate could be attending Mass daily, or perhaps an extra day during the week, if we are able; praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours before Mass might be included, as well. Another is the Way of the Cross devotion, made either communally or privately. We will have the Way of the Cross each Friday of Lent in the Church. Perhaps we can make an effort to pray the Rosary or the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy regularly, or coming to church on Wednesdays for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be part of our increased prayer. By no means is this list exhaustive.
Being a materially blessed society, most of us have food of some variety readily available to us. Therefore, fasting is one of those actions not many of us like to do. On occasion we have to fast if we are having medical procedures done or blood tests taken, and the complaining that accompanies this can be tremendous. However, denying ourselves something we need to live, but restricting the quantity is do-able, especially when it comes to food. When our stomach growls, it is a reminder of how much we are blessed, and how so many others do without on a regular basis.
It also reminds us of our total dependence upon God, who provides us with the sustenance of life. If we are always concerned with keeping our bellies full, not only do we need larger clothes, but we become deaf to the cry of the poor and hungry in body and in spirit, and inadvertently make our personal comfort a number one priority.
Likewise, our charity can always grow. The sharing of our time and material resources with and for the benefit of others will open us to be more grateful for whatever we have, and help us to be more humble in the sight of God. Hence, the added benefit will be a better “self.” May our Lenten sacrifices bear the fruit of a soul united to Christ crucified.
The Highlight of Lent for us will be our parish Lenten retreat preached by Fr. Thomas Cardone, SM. Many may recall that Father Cardone has been a part of our parish family in assisting us in the past. Father is a well-known retreat director, and has preached the profession retreat of the Little Sisters of the Poor on many occasions. Father is presently the chaplain and religion professor at Kellenberg Memorial High School.
Father will preach at all the Masses on the weekend of March 8th and 9th, the First Sunday in Lent. And our retreat will be 7.30 each evening on March 10, 11, and 12. Father will give us our Lenten Talk in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the evening will end with Benediction each night. During Father’s Lenten preaching I will be in the confessional for those who would like to make their confession.
During Lent we will have the Stations of the Cross on each Friday at 7.30pm. Please make every effort to walk with Our Lord as he carried the Cross.
On each Wednesday of Lent beginning with the 12th of March we will have a Holy Hour in the Chapel from 7.30pm to 8.30 pm. During that time I will try to offer a Lenten meditation.
Please make a Holy Lent and try to instill into your children the importance of doing penance. How pleased is Our Lord when the little ones give up candy or cookies for love of Him.
CMA and Parish Giving: Soon we will begin our annual Catholic Ministries Appeal. Many of you will be receiving a letter from me. Your generosity in this appeal is of great benefit to our beloved St. Paul’s. Many of you know that I also serve as the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese. In that capacity I assist the Bishop exercising his judicial authority. Your generosity to the appeal is not only of assistance to me as your pastor but also as the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda