by Parish Staff
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
There seems to be something magical about Ash Wednesday. I think that one could say that more people go to church on Ash Wednesday than on any other day of the year. Being marked with the ashes made from palm is not a sure ticket to heaven, but it is a powerful symbol that should remind us that we are indeed sinners and have a need to repent, to change our ways so as to put Christ in the center of lives. Ash Wednesday is also the first day of Lent, which is a season of penance. Lenten practices in the Diocese of Corpus Christi are as follows:
Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, is a day of fast and abstinence, and all Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Good Friday, April 19, 2019, is also a day of fast and abstinence.
The Easter Duty is the obligation to receive Holy Communion between the First Sunday of Lent (March 10, 2019) and Trinity Sunday (June 16, 2019).
Fasting binds all Catholics over 18 and less than 59 years of age. On days of fast, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken in accordance to each one’s needs, but together should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals in not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed. Abstinence binds all over the age of 14. On days of abstinence no meat is allowed. (Chicken is meat!)
When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. When in doubt concerning fast and abstinence, a parish priest or confessor should be consulted.
Pastoral note: The following is based on L’Osservatore Romano (the official newspaper of the Vatican), Feb. 20, 1966 (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 6, pg. 677): Is it a sin to fail to observe the Lenten Regulation?
“The substantial observance of Lent is a grave obligation. L’Osservatore Romano commented that the word substantial was chosen to show the personal responsibility of each one before God to practice penance in spirit and truth without insisting on the traditional distinction between grave and light matter in violation of the law. A single violation would not be considered a grave sin. The repeated and habitual violation would certainly be grave. The law on penance also takes into consideration that there may be circumstances when the traditional regulations cannot be observed, such as illness, travel, work or school in a devoted manner. Children should be taught penance in this way.
“Also works of charity such as a giving alms or visiting the sick, or attendance at Lenten Masses and devotions, such as Stations of the Cross, can be substituted for the traditional fasting and abstinence when a person finds he/she cannot observe them.”
I know that it is a custom to give up something for Lent as a penance. While giving something up for Lent is admirable and can definitely help remind us of the need to do penance as a way to underline the importance of turning away from sin. But it is equally important to do things that help us to center our lives of Christ Himself. Lent is also an excellent opportunity to make time to read your Bible; and hopefully, this would become something that you would do every day after Lent as well. Putting God’s Word into practice by doing something for others as if you were Christ Himself reaching out to them, for surely you are, is a good way to live our Catholic faith on a daily basis.
Participating in daily Mass (Masses at SSCM will be at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Monday thru Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. on Friday, and 12 noon on Wednesdays) is an excellent spiritual exercise that will help you grow in your relationship with the Lord. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays (especially during the hour of praise and worship from 7 to 8 p.m.) is a great way to spend time with the Lord and allow Him to speak to you. We should all make good use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) during the season of Lent. After all, Lent is meant to be a time for us to turn away from sin and clothe ourselves with Christ. You have the opportunity to receive this sacrament every Monday evening 7 to 8 p.m. and every Saturday afternoon 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. You can pray the Stations of the Cross every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. followed by the Rosary at 7:00 p.m.
I might also suggest that you go by the AGAPE Store and buy a spiritual book from the many that we offer and do some spiritual reading during Lent. Get a commentary to help you study the Bible. Remember that the men have a Bible Class every Thursday evening in RE-2 of the Religious Education Center from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. There are limitless Lenten meditations which can be found on line – just Google Lenten meditation. You can also take a biblical walk thru the Passion of Jesus with Deacon Freddie every Thursday of Lent in the Works of Mercy building.
Yes, there are a lot of different things that you can do make this Lent a profitable time in your spiritual journey. It all depends on you and how close of a relationship you really want to have with the Lord Jesus. Don’t let the temptations of this world keep you away from the Lord.
Lent is indeed an important time of the year for us and should be seen as a time for us to grow spiritually. Let us daily make whatever sacrifice we have to make to center ourselves on the Lord and make Him number one in our lives. This Lent can truly be a time for us to die to self and unite ourselves more closely to the Lord Jesus amd to each other.
I love you,