January 30, 2015
With this month of February, we begin the great and holy penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is Feb. 18 and I encourage you to commit to daily Mass and regular confession during Lent.
You may recall that the first day of Ordinary Time this year was Jan. 12 and the Gospel for that day recounted how Jesus began His public, three-year ministry. He did two things: announced that the kingdom of God was at hand by calling to all to “repent and believe;” and began to call His Twelve Apostles by calling Simon and Andrew and James and John to follow Him.
Lent begins in much the same way. As we receive the blessed ashes on our heads, we will be told to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” In both cases, Jesus is teaching us that there is but one way only to be His disciple. Seek and obtain the forgiveness of our sins and then use the grace of absolution to be a faithful follower of His.
That, in a nutshell, is not only what Lent is and why we celebrate it annually, but that, too, is what true discipleship demands—a heart and mind free of all the snares and obstacles sin creates in our lives through our own fault. So, my brother and sisters, to benefit spiritually and temporarily from this great and holy season, we must free ourselves of our sins and do so frequently by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Then, we need to fortify ourselves spiritually and temporarily by the frequent reception of Holy Communion.
This Lent, commit yourselves to what the Church has always encouraged us to do, that is, daily prayer, fasting as an act of mortification and reparation for sins, and to good works, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. If you persevere in this, your personal discipleship will be strengthened and think of the power of your good example for others.
As a reminder, all Catholics who have celebrated an 18th birthday and have not yet celebrated a 59th birthday are obliged to fast and abstain on all the appointed days in Lent. The days of strict fast are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This means that one may eat one full meal only and the other two meals may not amount together to one full meal. All Catholics who have celebrated a 14th birthday are obliged to abstain from meat and food made from meat by-products on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as well as every Friday in Lent. Please do this as an act of devotion to our crucified Savior and as a small way to unite yourselves with Him in His Passion and death.
Let us truly make this Lenten season a time for spiritual renewal and growth. Let us pray for and support one another. May God bless you.