Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen year old girl gathering firewood near the small village of Lourdes, France. It was the first of a series of apparitions, through which Mary shared with Bernadette God’s desire for healing for those who suffer, invited her to do penance, and encouraged public manifestations of piety. Since these visions, countless people have visited Lourdes to bathe in the miraculous spring of water our Lady showed to St. Bernadette. In addition to countless stories of personal healings that have taken place, there have been 70 confirmed, miraculous cures.
Though the liturgical observation of Sunday takes priority, February 11 is ordinarily celebrated as the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. How fitting that the Gospel today is a story of healing. The leper surrenders himself both to the power and the plan of Jesus. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” In response, Jesus confirms His healing will: “I do will it. Be made clean.” This Gospel passage communicates the desire our Lord has to bring healing to our lives and to our souls. “Be made clean” includes both His plan to bring us to physical wholeness and His plan to purify our hearts that we may live holiness of life. Today, we can also call upon Mary, under her title as Our Lady of Lourdes, asking that she would intercede for our healing before the throne of her Son.
This week, we begin the holy and penitential season of Lent. The prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we will take on purify our hearts and minds so that we can be more fully committed to our walk as disciples of Christ. In many ways, the season is one of healing. These forty days leading us to Holy Week are a great opportunity to grow in our identity as God’s beloved people. To help us on that path, we have a number of opportunities and resources available throughout Lent. Printed in this bulletin, you will find our complete list of Ash Wednesday services, as well as those of the other parishes in our deanery. Additionally, the times for confession here and at our neighboring parishes are included.
Finally, as a reminder, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us: “Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.”