This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent. Masses will be offered in Mercy Hall that day at 6:45am and 8:00am and at 12:10pm, 5:00pm, and 7:00pm. Ashes will be blessed and distributed at all those Masses. We will also have a priest or deacon in Mercy Hall after the 12:10pm Mass until 2:00pm for those who simply want to stop by and receive ashes without a crowd.
Like everything else this year, Lent will be a little bit different. Until the Church painting is finished, probably the beginning of March, all of our Lenten devotions will be in Mercy Hall rather than the Church. This includes Stations of the Cross, Daily and Sunday Mass, and Confessions.
One good way this Lent will be a bit different is that it comes during the Year of Saint Joseph. Recall that Pope Francis decreed this Year of Saint Joseph to encourage us to look to the wonderful example of this holy saint. With this in mind, we will have a Novena of Prayer in Honor of Saint Joseph to prepare for his feast day which is March 19th.
The Novena will begin on March 11th and continue each day, culminating on the Feast of Saint Joseph, Fri, Mar 19. It will be prayed every weekday at 6:30pm by one of our priests or deacons. On Sat, Mar 13 it will be prayed following the 4:30pm Mass, and on Sun, Mar 14 it will be prayed after the 9:00am Mass. Copies of the Novena will also be available for those who wish to pray it at home. Watch the bulletin for details!
There are several ways of looking at Lent. Some people see it simply as a time of penance. We give up treats we like to show that we are sorry for our sins and want to do better in the future. This is a good way of looking at Lent.
Other people look at Lent as a time to do something extra for God. They go to Daily Mass or practice extra charity as a way of going the extra mile for God during this holy season. This is also a good way of looking at Lent.
I personally think that it’s best to see Lent as a little of both. It is indeed a time of penance, but also a time for spiritual growth. This means that we make the most of Lent by both repenting of sin and doing something extra for God! There will be many opportunities to do this in our parish this Lent.
The Stations of the Cross is one opportunity for extra prayer and spiritual growth. They will be prayed every Friday of Lent at 3:00pm and 7:00pm. Stations will also be prayed on Tuesdays in Spanish at 7pm. Praying the Stations of the Cross is a great way to remember what Jesus did for us on Good Friday, and to do something extra for Him!
Rice Bowls will be distributed as a means of helping us practice charity this Lent. While we usually fill these with change, perhaps this year it would make more sense to simply make a donation in an envelope marked ‘Rice Bowl’. Remember that Jesus said almsgiving–helping the poor–is a good penance for our sins.’ (Luke 11:41, 1 Peter 4:8)
One of the most important things we can do for Lent is to make a good Confession. This is especially true if it’s been a while since our last one. We will have two priests hearing Confessions every Saturday of Lent from 9:00– 9:30am and from 3:15– 4:15pm. Keep in mind that, if your health or age make it impossible for you to risk coming to Confession at this time, you can avail yourself of the practice called Perfect Contrition. Please feel free to call one of our priests if you have any questions about how to do that or if you simply would like to make an appointment for Confession at a time when there is no crowd. We will always do our best to help you in this!
Please pray for my Uncle Angelo, who passed away last week. I wrote these words before leaving to offer his Funeral Mass. He is my mom’s oldest brother, a man who was an inspiration to me in many ways (I used to tell him that he and his wife were more religious than me, and I really believe that). Please also pray for my Aunt Maddy, his wife, and for my mom as she buries her brother.
Thank God for the gift of faith that gives us hope, and for the grace of God, which sustains us at times like this. I thank God also for my family, and for all of you, who are such a prayerful support to me.
Be assured of my prayers for you.
Have a great week!