ARE YOU READY FOR LENT?

The Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10. That’s just 3 days from now! So now is an appropriate time to think about your Lenten Journey.

You will notice on the back page of this publication, I have printed all the liturgies, devotions and events that are being offered at St. Mary’s this Lenten Season.

Please take the time to read it over. Think about the various opportunities made available to you. Maybe you’ve never spent time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. You can sign up for a specific hour each week, or you can just drop in at any time the Chapel is open. Jesus is there in the Blessed Sacrament, just waiting for your visit. It’s like stopping in to see your best friend. You’re friends whether or not you see each other often, but isn’t it amazing when you get together and share a little of your precious time?

When was the last time you came to the Stations of the Cross? Or received the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Catholics tend to think that Lent is all about giving up. “What are you giving up for Lent this year?” Soda, coffee, cigarettes, candy? There’s nothing wrong with making a sacrifice during these 40 days. After all, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us. But what if, this year, right now, you look at Lent in a different way. Instead of “Sacrificial Living”, you think about “Sacrificial Giving”.

Sacrificial Giving is what some people call Giving ‘Til It Hurts. I don’t know that we are expected to hurt ourselves, but I do believe we are expected to go out of our comfort zone.

The principles of Stewardship challenge you to accept God’s gifts gratefully, cherish them and attend them in a responsible manner, share them in justice and love with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.

I would like to take that a step further and encourage you to give outside your comfort zone. Usually we give what is comfortable for us. Sure, we write a check each week to support the church, but could we dig a little deeper into our purses, pockets, and wallets. Could we give a little more generously to our parish, the church outside our parish (Annual Catholic Appeal of our Diocese), the world church, or any other charity of our choice?

This goes for time as well. Try to spend just a little more time reaching out to someone. It can be in a formal program, or it can just be by following the Corporal Works of Mercy (visit the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry…) Offer to pick up the newspaper or the mail for your neighbor who doesn’t get around well. How about picking up a loaf of bread for that neighbor next time you go to the store?

The Lenten Season would be an appropriate time to mentally review the promises you made with God in your Covenant. Did you resolve to add just a few minutes a day to your prayer time? (Or establish a prayer time.) Pray for a deeper understanding of the Stewardship Way of Life.

Were you planning to take advantage of more Adult Education opportunities? Read Catholic books and literature? Hopefully your picked up a copy of Rediscover Jesus this weekend and are ready to read the book. It is meant to be read as a daily devotional during Lent.

The parish made the book available to you to help in your Faith Journey and to help make your relationship with God stronger.

I encourage you to sign up for the “Best Lent Ever” at DynamicCatholic.com. It will provide you with a daily inspirational video to be used as a companion to the book.

Whatever you choose to do to observe Lent this year, don’t let it slip by unnoticed. Step outside your comfort zone and return your gifts to God with increase.

FAST & ABSTINENCE
There are five precepts of the Church that are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor. (CCC 2041)

The fourth precept tells us that “you shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”. (CCC 2043)

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the following is the direction on Fast and Abstinence during Lent:

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. The norms for fasting are obligatory from age 18 until 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal which can be divided into two smaller meals. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon Catholic from age 14 onwards.