THE PASCHAL SEASON

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All the days, from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost, is our Paschal (Passover) Season. The 40 days of Lent and the 50 days of Eastertime surround the Triduum, the great 3 days from Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday evening. This entire season has a unity founded in the Easter Vigil and visibly expressed in the recalling of our preparation for initiation during Lent and the continued celebration of baptismal death and resurrection in Christ during Eastertime. To put it another way, we seek renewal and deeper conversion during Lent so that we might come to new life during Easter and, in turn, go forth at Pentecost with the power of the Spirit to transform the world.

Links:    Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Stations of the Cross

Celebrating Lent 2012

Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

Fasting is part of our Lenten discipline. Abstinence from meat is observed by all Catholics age 14 and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent. Abstinence from all festive food is encouraged on every day of Lent as part of the common discipline of this holy season. Fasting is observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59. Those who are bound by this may take one full meal, or two smaller meals if necessary to maintain strength. Eating solid food between meals is not permitted. As St. John Chrysostom reminded us, “Fasting is a medicine, strengthening the weak and helping Christians grow healthy.” According to our tradition, the Lenten discipline of fasting is always accompanied by prayer and almsgiving (the giving of charity and works of mercy). In the words of St. Augustine , “Prayer needs two wings to fly to heaven: fasting and almsgiving.” We also need to carefully heed the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 58:6-7, 10):

This is the fast that pleases me: To break unjust fetters, to let the oppressed go free, to share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor. If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked work; if you give bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness.

 

Ash Wednesday (February 22)

Lent begins with ashes on our foreheads, reminding us of fundamental truths about ourselves. The dust of the ashes reminds us that death is inevitable for each of us. The ashes are a sign of repentance and of our need to change our lives. The ashes remind us of a fire that has grown cold; a fire that needs to be re-kindled within us by the time we gather around the new fire at the Easter Vigil. Like a phoenix rising from ashes, we seek to rise from our sinfulness to a fuller life in Christ.

Ashes will be distributed at the following times:

            6:30 AM Mass ( Old Church )

                8:30 AM Mass (New Church)

                4:00 PM Liturgy of the Word (New Church)

                7:00 PM Mass (New Church)

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend any of these services as we begin our Lent 2011 communal experience of renewal and recommitment to mission.

 

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Every Wednesday the Holy Eucharist will be visible on the altar of the Old Church for silent adoration, from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity for quiet prayer, reflection, or spiritual reading. Reading/reflection material will be available for your use on tables in the vestibule or you may bring your own. Each evening, adoration will close with Benediction at 8:45 PM. Please come and spend some time alone with Jesus.

 

Stations of the Cross

Nothing captures the spirit of Lent like the Stations of the Cross. For centuries, the church has encouraged this devotion as a popular way to pursue Lenten goals. Lent is a time for personal and communal conversion; a time of rebirth, of letting the Spirit create a new set of attitudes within us, reshaping us in the image of Christ. It is also, and most especially, a time for us to grow in active concern for the sick, the suffering, and the needy. Like Christ, we seek to walk with God’s poor and to set free all who are afflicted, discriminated against, oppressed and pushed to the margins of life.

 

We choose Jesus as the model of life’s journey, of which our Lenten observance should be symbolic. Jesus’ journey to the cross simply dramatizes what his whole life was; an offering of praise to God and of loving service to humanity. This is what we want for our lives, too. Like the rest of his life, Jesus’ passion and death were acts of praise, a response to God’s infinite love for him. We, too, want to praise God in sharing Jesus’ cross; not simply out of a dreary sense of responsibility or guilt, but as a grateful response to the good news of his burning love for us. In Jesus’ loving face and wounded body, we have a powerful image of God’s care for us and the entire world.

 

Let us come together as a community to pray the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings of Lent, beginning February 24, at 7:00 PM in the Old Church . Together, we will deepen our awareness that the Christ who walked to Calvary still walks His way of love among us disguised as friend, foe, neighbor, and even as ourselves.