The Coming of Lent
Once again this coming Wednesday, the Church sets out on her annual retreat – Lent. This grace-filled time in the Church’s calendar is a time of repentance and conversion, a time of a sacrifice and discipline – it is a time to re-commit ourselves to being true and faithful disciples of Christ and to casting aside anything which prevents us from being who Christ has made us to be. It is a time of prayer and fasting and almsgiving – a time of deepening our spiritual practices and spiritual discipline with the hopes that over these coming weeks these practices and discipline will become habits which we carry on into the Easter Season and beyond. This time of Lent is also a time to focus more fully on the sufferings and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ as we prepare to commemorate the sacred events of the Lord’s Passion during Holy Week. As we prepare to enter this season of grace, I wanted to outline a few ways that we as a parish will keep this season as a community.
The first is Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence. Please be sure to check the bulletin for rules on fasting and abstinence over the Lenten Season. Masses will be celebrated at 6:30 AM, 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Please also consider joining our annual Ash Wednesday Morning of Reflection hosted by the St. Mary’s Christian Women. The event is open to both men and women.
This Lent we will be adding more times for confession. If you recall, over Advent, we added confessions on Tuesdays at Noon and we will pick this back up starting the Tuesday after Ash Wednesday. In addition, I will be leading Stations of the Cross in church every Friday during Lent at 6:30 PM and will then hear confessions starting at 7:00 PM. With our normal confession times on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning there should be a time that will work in everyone’s schedules. You will also find this weekend, in the Atrium, copies of the book, “7 Secrets of Confession” by Vinny Flynn. These books are available for free – we would simply ask that only one copy per household be taken, so as to ensure that as many people who would like copies are able to receive them.
Once again, the confession times will be Tuesdays during Lent at Noon; Fridays from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM and again on Friday nights during Lent at 7:00 PM (following Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM) and Saturday mornings at 8:30 AM. If you have not gone in a while the priest will be happy to help you and there are numerous resources on the internet and even smart phone apps that have not only the ritual for celebrating the sacrament, but an examination of conscience to help in preparing. It is my hope and prayer that every member of St. Mary’s goes to confession at least once over the Lenten Season.
A reminder as well that the Stations of the Cross which we will be praying on Friday nights during Lent at 6:30 PM are a very powerful spiritual practice – consider making attendance part of your way of keeping Lent – St. Paul says, “if we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him.” Praying the Stations of the Cross was rooted in the inability of people to go to the Holy Land on pilgrimage to visit the sites of the events of the Passion and so, in a very real spiritual sense, when we pray the Stations we go on pilgrimage to visit and pray at those sacred sites. A plenary indulgence is available under the normal conditions for praying the Stations of the Cross.
Lent will culminate with the celebration of Holy Week which begins on Palm Sunday. Masses are celebrated at the usual times on Palm Sunday and begin in the Atrium with the proclamation of the Gospel and Blessing of Palms. Mass on Holy Thursday is celebrated at 7:00 PM, which concludes with the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose in the Atrium. Everyone is invited to spend time in prayer “in the garden” with our Lord. The time of adoration will conclude with the praying of Night Prayer at 10:00 PM. Good Friday’s celebration of the Passion of Our Lord begins at 12:30 PM. Stations of the Cross will be prayed again on Good Friday evening at 6:30 PM. On Holy Saturday we have the traditional Blessing of the Easter Food in the Atrium at 9:00 AM. The Easter Vigil will begin at 8:00 PM that night in the Atrium Gardens. Masses for Easter Day are celebrated at 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM.
May this Lent of 2017 be a season of grace for us as individuals and for all of us as a parish!
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