Today is the First Sunday of Lent. My favorite analogy for Lent is Spring Training. Just as baseball players get in shape during Spring Training, Catholics use Lent to get in better "spiritual shape". The traditional ways to do this are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are encouraged to do a little more praying, fast as a penance for our sins, and be generous to the poor. What follows are some suggestions for doing this.
Try to get to Daily Mass during Lent. If you can't get there every day, at least try to get to Daily Mass at least once a week. The Mass is the most powerful prayer we have, and we do well to make good use of it. Another good way to pray this Lent would be to attend the Parish Lenten Mission on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. Each evening will include time for prayer, as well as a Lenten homily, followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I would especially encourage families to come to these evenings – at least once this Lent – just to expose your children to the beautiful practice of Benediction.
If at all possible, come to the Night of Spiritual Awakening on Wednesday, March 20 th. It will be a night of adoration, prayer, and praise. A special preacher will be here to speak, a few priests will be here to hear Confessions, and the evening will end with Benediction. I had the pleasure of attending a Night of Awakening in another parish a few weeks ago – and found it very inspiring and uplifting. I'm sure you will, too!
Stations of the Cross will begin this Friday at 3 and 7 PM. These meditations, which help us reflect on all that Jesus did for us on that first Good Friday, are a tried and true way to pray during Lent. I hope that every family in our parish will get to the Stations of the Cross as many Friday's as possible this Lent. (Stations will be prayed in Spanish on Tuesday evenings at 7 PM.)
To assist people in almsgiving, our parish will participate in the Rice Bowl again this year. I would ask every family to take a Rice Bowl and fill it with change this Lent. This money is given to Catholic agencies that serve the poor. Many families make a practice of having a very simple meal once a week during Lent – and donating the savings to the Rice Bowl. Others place spare change in it each day. These are a just a few ways you can easily be good to the poor this Lent.
Most of all, I encourage everyone to make a good Confession this Lent. Confessions are heard every Saturday at 9-9:30 AM and 3:15-4:15 PM. Additionally, there will be a Penance Service on April 1 st at 7 PM. Many priests will be available to hear Confessions that evening. Whether you go to the Penance Service or regular Confessions, be sure to get to Confession this Lent. Our Church takes on a somber tone during Lent. Most of the images are covered, and there are no flowers. Simple Latin chants are used for the Mass parts. The idea is to help us enter into this holy season on many different levels – as a reminder of our need to get into better spiritual shape this Lent.
Please remember to pray a Hail Mary for me today – and every day. I pray for all of you daily. Let's also pray for the grace to make a good Lent – and to use this holy season to really get in good spiritual shape for Easter.
Have a great week!