Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we continue in this time of pandemic, so many things in our lives are different, while other things remain the same. This year, we’ll find that the season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday, February 17, will also be similar and different in various ways. Here are a few examples.
What will be the same this year?
– Our disciplines for fasting and abstinence. Every year, we’re called to fast from eating (except for one meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from eating meat on each Friday during the Lenten season. These disciplines apply to folks between the ages of 18 and 59, and water and medicine are always exempt. Click here for details.
– The Stations of the Cross. Join us each Friday at 3pm either in person (in the church) or online in this beautiful devotion. This manner of reflecting on the suffering and crucifixion of our Lord has deep roots in our Catholic tradition, and helps us reflect on themes of suffering and sacrifice in our own lives.
– Opportunities for confession. In addition to my regular availability each Saturday at 4pm, I’ll also be available Sunday mornings between Masses. Mark your calendars for the evening of Tuesday, March 23, when my friend, Fr. Carlos Lerma, will join us for a special Lenten Reconciliation Service.
– CRS Rice Bowl. The bowls are once again available in the parish commons. Pick up one for your family, and use it as a place to collect money throughout the Lenten season. These funds support important relief and development projects in over a hundred countries around the world—some of which I’ve seen firsthand. Also, be sure to reference the accompanying calendar which contains inspiring quotes, family activities, meatless recipes and stories of hope from Madagascar, El Salvador, and Timor-Leste. For even more information, visit www.crsricebowl.org.
What’s different this year?
– Shrove Tuesday. We can’t gather for our pancake supper as we have in the past, but your parish staff is working on another exciting opportunity. We’re finalizing our plans for “Shrove Tuesday Live with Fr. Jonathan,” a special event on our parish Facebook page (in English) from 5 to 7pm. Along with members of our parish staff, I’ll be live on Facebook answering your questions, sharing insights about Ash Wednesday and Lent, talking about CRS Rice Bowl, and offering some spontaneous contests with fun prizes! Feel free to come and go during that time, and snack on your final chips or ice cream before you give it up for Lent. Join us via Zoom. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87813308466
– Ash Wednesday. I’ll talk more about this in my homily this weekend, but here’s what’s happening: in order to eliminate physical contact, this year the Vatican has instructed that ashes be sprinkled over the heads of penitents, instead of being traced on their foreheads. We’re used to leaving church on Ash Wednesday with a visible mark, but this year we won’t have that. I’ll celebrate Mass at 12:10 in English, and have services with distribution of ashes at 5:30pm in English and 7pm in Spanish.
– Our Lenten formation opportunities. In past years, our parish has distributed a book to all parishioners at Christmas, and then invited us to gather in small groups during Lent to discuss it. This year, for various reasons, we didn’t distribute a book, but we have other great options. Swing by the church to get a “40 days, 40 items” guide to help you to declutter your home and make room for God. Also, we have “Lent in a bag” which contains six items to spur family conversation on Lenten themes. As always, make use of our parish subscription to www.formed.org and explore some of the excellent Lenten material they recently posted. Keep an eye on your regular parish emails for more information.
God bless you!