Tag Archives: lent

Ash Wednesday

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Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting (required for those between the ages of 18-59; encouraged for all others) and a day of abstinence from meat (for all aged 14 and up) it is NOT a holy day of obligation. There is no obligation to receive ashes.

What does fasting mean?

Fasting means partaking of only one full meal for the day. Two smaller meals may substitute in order not to weaken. No eating between meals.

What does abstinence mean?

The practice of abstinence is defined as not eating red meat; eggs and milk products are acceptable.

Blessed John Paul II reminded us that While preserving their value, external penitential practices are never an end in themselves, but an aid to inner penitence, which consists of freeing the heart from the grip of sin with the help of grace, to direct it toward the love of God and our brothers and sisters.


Lenten practices: confession of sins, praying the Stations of the Cross, giving alms, doing an act of charity. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving form one unit, to separate them makes the whole thing incoherent. Many people attend Mass more often than once a week.

“For the sake of the joy which lay before him he endured the cross, heedless of its shame” (Hebrews 12-2).

Do others see the Catholic difference in us?

In Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez’s weekly column for today’s edition of Los Angeles weekly newspaper, The Tidings, he dedicates time to what we ought to make time for in Lent. Given the recent events in LA with the retired cardinal and auxiliary bishop, His Excellency’s words hit home, or at least they ought to. What is clear to me is that we can’t settle for following Jesus “half way” and “good enough” is not, in fact enough. The life we lead, our spiritual life, the friendship we share needs constant review and a constant infusion of grace. Gomez starts us on the path to ask, Am I leading the right kind of Christian life? The column, emphasis mine:

These have been challenging days for our local Church here in Los Angeles.

I have been talking and reflecting with Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry, along with our other Auxiliary Bishops about the events of last week. We are committed to moving forward in our ministries with hope and confidence in God’s grace.

We need to keep praying for those who are hurting. We need to ask again for forgiveness for the sins of the past and for our own failings. And we need to match our prayers for grace with concrete actions of healing and renewal.

And recent events should inform our prayer, penance and charity in this season of Lent, which begins next week with Ash Wednesday.

All of us need the grace of a new conversion. This is what Lent is for.

We need to be transformed once more by the person of Jesus Christ and the power of his Gospel. We need to live our faith with new sincerity, new zeal, new purpose and new purity. We need a new desire to be his disciples.

I cannot say it enough: We all need to rediscover the essential message of the Gospel — that we are children of a God who loves us and who calls us to be one family in his Church and to make this world his Kingdom, a city of love and truth.

The challenge we face — now and always, as individuals and as a Church — is to resist the temptation to only follow Jesus “half way.” We should never settle for mediocrity or minimum standards in our life of faith. There are no “good enough” Christians, only Christians who are not doing enough good.

God wants us to be great! We are called to the holiness of God, to a share in his own holiness. Jesus said this in his Sermon on the Mount: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Holiness does not mean separating ourselves from the world. Just the opposite. Holiness means loving God and loving our neighbor in the middle of the world. In our families, in our work, in our play, in everything we do.

The pathways of holiness are different for every one of us. How we love, how we seek the face of God, depends on the circumstances of our lives. And we will never be finished in this work of holiness.

But that’s the fun, the beauty and the joy of our faith.

The way forward for our Church is for each one of us to rediscover this universal call to holiness. This is the meaning of our Christian lives. We are children of God called to be holy as our Father is holy. And we seek that holiness by working with his gifts of grace to love as Jesus loved.

During these challenging times for our Church, we have to resist the desire to turn inward or to withdraw from our involvement with our culture and society.

We still have a mission as a Church — to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to redeem us from our sins and to show us the way to a new life of holiness. We need to carry his message of salvation, conversion and forgiveness to every person. We need to find new ways to evangelize our society — new approaches rooted in humility and the search for holiness, beauty and truth.

We can only change this world if we allow God to change us first. The lives we lead will always be the most credible witness we can give to the Gospel we believe in. People should be able to see “the Catholic difference” — the difference that our Catholic faith makes in our lives.

Our world today needs saints. Not “other-worldly” saints — but saints in our cities, our families, our parishes and schools, our media, our businesses, legislatures and courts.

We can’t wait for others. We need to become those saints ourselves. We need to inspire others around us to want to be saints.

So this week, let’s pray for one another and for our Church. Let’s keep praying for everyone who has ever been hurt by members of the Church. And let’s continue the process of healing their wounds and restoring the trust that was broken.

We can make this Lent a time for renewal and holiness. We can do this by trying to lead holier and simpler lives. Let’s live our faith with joy and compassion — and a daily desire to become more like Jesus Christ.

And let’s ask Our Lady of the Angels to help us to draw closer as one family of God.

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of REAL Happiness –a 4 day Lenten retreat by Fathers John Trigilio & Ken Brighenti

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A Four Day Lenten Mission to help discover the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith

 

Rev. John Trigilio & Rev. Ken Brighenti

Co-Hosts of EWTN Program “Web of Faith 2.0”

Co-Authors of Catholicism for Dummies

 

February 25-28, 2013  at 7 PM each night

Our Lady of Pompeii Church 

355 Foxon Road (Rt.80)  East Haven, CT

 

An abridged presentation will also be given each morning at Saint Augustine Church, 30 Caputo Road, North Branford, following the 9 a.m. Mass.

Septuagesima Sunday signals the springtime

It’s time to ask: what are you doing for Lent? How are you preparing for a time of change of mind and heart?

If you are following the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, today is Septuagesima Sunday, a time to make preparations, to start to clean one’s house. Ash Wednesday is in 18 days. So, the Church in her wisdom us start a period of preparation to ease us into the discipline of Lent. We always need a transition; we need a process to move from thing to another: being called into the Vineyard of the Lord requires our reliance on God’s grace to avoid sin and live in the Light. I remarked to someone today that just ended the Season of the Nativity only jump into the Season of Calvary.

The Ordinary Form of the Mass doesn’t have a comparable season of preparation; the OF will bring those who follow that Form through the beginning stages of Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom.

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The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite sets aside the singing of the Alleluia; the singing of the Gloria. In fact, in some monasteries and now in some dioceses, like the Diocese of Paterson (see the picture) that there is a brief ceremony that visualizes the removal of the Alleluia from our liturgical vocabulary at this time of the liturgical year. The omission of these prayer texts gives a somber sense. The priest wears purple vestments as a sign of preparation.

The Eastern Christians have also begun their preparation for Lent with a series of preparatory Sundays. The Byzantine Churches will observe Meat-Fare (Sunday of the Last Judgment) and Cheese-Fare (Sunday of Forgiveness) Sundays.

As the result of the work of Saint Gregory the Great, that is, since the 6th and 7th centuries we have three Sundays preceding Ash Wednesday that set off Lent called Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, meaning respectively, the seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth days before Resurrection of the Lord. The First Sunday of Lent is Quadragesima which is the beginning of the Lenten fast of forty days.

Father Mark recalls for us the biblical typology of our faith:

“The seventy-day period that begins with Septuagesima recalls the seventy-year exile of the children of Israel in Babylon. Seventy is the perfect number, signifying that God has fixed for us a delay of mercy to pass from the anguish of sinful Babylon to the beatitude of Jerusalem. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 136:4). We do well to recall Pope John Paul II’s assertion that, “the power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy.” The seventy days before Pascha signify this, and so become a season of hope for all who sit and weep by the waters of Babylon (cf. Psalm 136:1).

At the same time, the history of the world is divided into seven ages. The first is from the creation of the world to the flood; the second, from the renewal after the flood to the call of Abraham; the third from the covenant with Abraham to the call of Moses; the fourth from Moses to King David; the fifth from the reign of David to the Babylonian exile; and the sixth from return from captivity to the birth of Christ. With the birth of Our Lord comes the seventh age: the appearance of the Sun of Justice who rises over the world “with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). This seventh age of “these last days” (Hebrews 1:2) stretches until Christ’s second coming as Judge of the living and the dead. The seven weeks before Pascha are a review of salvation history.

The 13th Station: a mother and son united by an unfathomable bond both human and divine

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After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.

Mary sees her son die, the Son of God and her son too. She knows that he is innocent, but took upon himself the burden of our misery. The mother offers her son, the son offers his mother. To John and to us.

Jesus and Mary: here we see a family that on Calvary suffers as it experiences the ultimate separation. Death parts them, or at least it seems to part them: a mother and son united by an unfathomable bond both human and divine. Out of love they surrender it. Both abandon themselves to the will of God.

Into the chasm opened in Mary’s heart comes another son, one who represents the whole human race. Mary’s love for each of us is the prolongation of her love for Jesus. In Jesus’ disciples she will see his face. And she will live for them, to sustain them, to help them, to encourage them and to help them to acknowledge the love of God, so that they may turn in freedom to the Father.


What do they say to me, to us, to our families, this mother and son on Calvary? Each of us can only halt in amazement before this scene. We know instinctively that this mother and this son are giving an utterly unique gift. In them we find the ability to open our hearts and to expand our horizons to embrace the universe.

There, on Calvary,
at your side, Jesus, who died for us,
our families welcome the gift of God:
the gift of a love 
which can open our arms to the infinite.

The 13th Station Meditation of the Way of the Cross, Rome

Danilo and Anna Maria Zanzucchi

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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