Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Wednesday, the Church begins the great penitential season of Lent. For forty days, we will fast and pray, entering into the desert with Jesus. Just as our Lord, impelled by the Holy Spirit, went out into the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry, so too we go into this annual time with an eye toward the saving Passion and Death of our Savior. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are disciplines that help us to stay focused, that train us for the greater challenges we face, and that help us to be more single-minded in our devotion to Christ.
The season begins on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes, an outward sign of a penitent heart. Due to the pandemic, ashes will be given this year in a way most of us have not experienced. In the United States, we have typically experienced the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. Since ancient times, however, ashes have been imposed on the crown of the head. In fact, this venerable practice is typical even today in Rome. If you were to go back and look at the Ash Wednesday Masses celebrated by Pope Francis, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope St. John Paul II, you would see them bow their heads as ashes were sprinkled on the crown of their heads. The symbolism is the same – ashes are given as a sign of an interior desire to turn away from sin, to be renewed by the grace of Jesus Christ, to fully embrace the Gospel way of living.
On Ash Wednesday, our schedule is as follows:
- 7 AM – Liturgy of the Word with distribution of ashes
- 8:30 AM – Mass with distribution of ashes
- Noon – Liturgy of the Word with distribution of ashes
- 5:30 PM – Liturgy of the Word with distribution of ashes
- 7 – 8 PM – Confessions
During the season of Lent, we will continue our practice of Stations of the Cross every Friday evening at 7 PM. The sacrament of confession is available every Saturday from 4 – 5 PM, and every Wednesday from 7 – 8 PM. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place on Tuesday evenings from 8 – 9 PM, and confessions are usually available during that time, as well. On March 5, the first Friday of March, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will take place in the Church from 9 AM – 9 PM. You are invited to any and all of these opportunities for greater devotion and prayer during the Lenten season. During Lent, many people like to attend Mass more frequently. Our morning Mass begins at 8:30 AM Monday – Saturday. Additionally, a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form is held on Monday evening at 7 PM, and a low Mass in the Extraordinary Form is held on Thursday evenings at 7 PM. If you have never witnessed the Mass in Latin, I encourage you to attend one at some point during Lent.
As the season progresses, we will have other opportunities to grow in devotion, to intensify our prayer lives, to discipline ourselves for the sake of growing in God’s grace. May this forty day journey truly bring us to deeper spiritual health and greater love for our God!