From Fr. Paul 2-11-2018
This week we begin the holy season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 14th. There have been some jokes among Catholics about Lent this year beginning on Valentine’s Day and Easter Sunday on April 1st or April Fools’ Day. In a way, I like to think it fitting that February 14, the day our culture celebrates love, we will begin a season that helps us to focus on the greatest romance, the greatest love story, the love our heavenly Father has for His children. Jesus’ love is a love that knows no costs, that risks everything, and you and I are the recipients of that love. It is the ideal of what all our human love should look like – self-giving love. Lent is our way of preparing for the central point of the whole New Testament, the self-giving love that was perfectly shown through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We are marked with a cross of ashes on this first day of Lent reminding us that we belong to the Lord. We are reminded that this life is fragile and temporary and we need to firmly commit to live as followers of Christ if we want to share Eternal Life with Him. The priest might say to us, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return,” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” These 40 days of turning back to the Lord in prayer, fasting and almsgiving is our way to strengthen our appreciation for God’s love. The commitment to pray, fast and give helps to purify and discipline us, to help us hunger for God, to help us reevaluate what we hold as essential. However, if we lose sight of the purpose of Lent – drawing closer to God; our prayers, fasting and almsgiving could become only a temporary goal to accomplish. We might commit to extra prayer for forty days, or we give up dessert or social media like Facebook, or try to be more patient with our neighbor. When Easter arrives we might say, “Whew, I made it through Lent” and go back to our daily routine. Sometimes we might ask ourselves just before Ash Wednesday, “What should I give up this year? What good works should I do this lent? Those questions are not bad, but we should put some thought and prayer into these questions. A question that gets to the heart of Lent would be, “what would bring me into a closer relationship with Jesus these 40 days?” The answer should be reached through prayer. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We give up meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. We should give alms and support the Church and those in need, but in particular I encourage us as a parish to focus on prayer this year. I say this especially to those who do not make time for daily prayer, or think they don’t have time to pray each day. Prayer grounded on the Word of God and rooted in our Catholic tradition can help us profoundly encounter God’s love.
The following are some opportunities the parish offers to spend time in prayer with Jesus this Lent:
- Pick up a prayer card on Ash Wednesday with 7 easy tips to help you pray and use it throughout Lent
- Spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 6:30am –7:20. Spend the hour or stop in for a portion of the time before work. There will also be Eucharistic Adoration on Fridays from 4-6:45pm.
- Attend an extra Mass during the week during Lent: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7:30am before work and Wednesday at 12:10pm during a lunch break
- Accompany Jesus along the way to Calvary with the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7pm in the church
Other opportunities could include praying with a half of a chapter, or a whole chapter of a Gospel each day, praying a daily rosary, or turning off the radio in the car on the way to or from work for some silence. I encourage you to invite the Holy Spirit to help you to become a more faithful friend of the Lord this Lent.