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 noon and 4.00pm. In addition to these times of services ashes will be available in the Church throughout the whole day. Simply come to the Church 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.noon, AND 4.00pm. ASHES WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE IN THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DAY
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. On March 13th The Soup Supper, hosted by the Knights of Columbus, Squires and Troops of St. George, will be served at 6.00pm before the Stations of the Cross. Perhaps we can make an effort to pray the Rosary or the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy regularly. 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 Lachlan Cameron. Father Cameron is the Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and is in residence at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. Many may know him as the celebrant of the Mass televised from St. Agnes on TELECARE. Father will preach at all the Masses on the weekend of March 7th and 8th, the Third Sunday in Lent. And our retreat will be 7.00 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. The whole evening will be one hour. 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.
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. Each month the Diocese reimburses St. Paul’s over $2,000.00 for my service as Judicial Vicar.
The Little Sisters of the Poor: It is with great joy that I make known that the Little Sisters of the Poor will visit the parish of St. Paul the Apostle during the weekend of February 21st and 22nd. The Little Sisters will speak at all the masses and they will stand with their baskets at the doors of the Church to receive your offerings for their work with the elderly poor. The Little Sisters are not too proud to come to us as beggars, and it is my fond hope that the parishioners of St. Paul will respond to them with great generosity. Many of you know that before my arrival as your pastor I had lived at the novitiate of the Little Sisters of the Poor located in Queens Village for thirteen years and served as their confessor and chaplain. My mother has been a resident in their home for six years (she will be 95 on March 1st. I am praying that my own mother will be well enough to come to St. Paul’s with the Little Sisters for the 5.00pm Mass on February 21st. She has not been out of the residence since October 2012 when she suffered a stroke. (She has been in the wonderful gardens of the residence in the nice weather). She was not at my installation as your pastor in 2013, and, in fact, is unaware that I am the pastor of St. Paul’s. But I know that in a certain spiritual sense she is aware of St. Paul’s and the wonderful parish that it is.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda