From the Pastor

We are in the 6th week of Ordinary Time. All of the readings this week teach us that we are called to become holy by confessing our sins and offering our lives for God’s glory, and by sharing God’s love with everyone, especially the less privileged and disenfranchised. This week Ash Wednesday will mark the beginning of the season of Lent. The Lenten season gives us a perfect opportunity to renew our lives and become closer to God.

The theme of the first reading is freedom from bodily and ritual impurity which are signs of internal holiness. This freedom is symbolized by the precautions against contracting leprosy given in the first reading and Jesus’ healing of the leper described in the Gospel. The first reading exposes the ancient Jewish attitude toward leprosy and sets forth the rules for segregating lepers from the rest of society. This sets the scene for Jesus’ healing of the leper described in the Gospel. By healing this man, Jesus liberated him not only from the physical aspects of the disease, but also the unjust and inhuman social isolation and ostracism to which the lepers were subjected.

In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts us to become holy by doing “everything for the glory of God.” He further teaches us to show sensitivity toward others who are different from us, rather than passing judgment on them. This account echoes the theme of tolerance for others related in the Gospel. We should trust in the mercy of a forgiving God who assures us that our sins are forgiven and that we are clean from the spiritual leprosy of sin when we repent and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we repent our sins, we hear and experience His words of absolution, “Very well—your sins are forgiven, and you are clean,” which are echoed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. On this day, ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the cross. What is the significance of this ritual? From the earliest centuries of Christianity, ashes were used as a symbol of repentance. Baptized Christians who sought forgiveness from their sins were enrolled in the Order of Penitents; placing ashes on the forehead was a sign of this membership as well as a sign of repentance. We continue this practice today to remind us of the fragility of life; from ashes we came, and to ashes we will return.

During Lent, the Church encourages all Catholics to fast. Everyone over the age of 14 are urged to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during Lent. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 are asked to limit themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The other two meals on these days should be modest and together should not equal one full meal. We are also encouraged to make more personal sacrifices, such as giving up chocolate, soft drinks, beer, snacks between meals or our favorite chips. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, invites us to spend less money during Lent and use this money to care for the poor.

There are several advantages to fasting, three in particular. First, the experience of physical hunger reminds us that our deepest hunger is spiritual, that nothing can satisfy our deepest hunger except God. Second, our voluntary experience of hunger creates a bond with those who are hungry involuntarily. It bonds us with those who are in need and who depend on the generosity of others for even the basics of life. In this way, fasting can lead us to charitable giving of money as well as giving our time and talents to others and God. And third, abstinence from food often leads us to discover some behaviors from which we need to “fast.” For example, we may need to “fast” from making negative comments, engaging in gossip and other idle conversation, or by spending an excessive amount of time by visiting inappropriate sites on the Internet.

We have four Masses on Ash Wednesday:  8:00 am, 11:00 am, 5:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. We have also scheduled several activities during Lent including a parish mission, penance service, Bible study by Deacon Vince, Stations of the Cross and others activities. I encourage you to participate in as many of these events as possible. Please refer to the flyer which was mailed to you earlier this week or call the parish office if you need more information on any specific program. In order to make this Lenten season more meaningful, I pray that you use this season of Lent as an opportunity to grow closer to God.

During Lent, the Church encourages all Catholics to fast. Everyone 14 and older are urged to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during Lent. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 are asked to limit themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The other two meals on these days should be modest and together should not equal one full meal. We are also encouraged to make more personal sacrifices, such as giving up chocolate, soft drinks, beer, snacks between meals or our favorite chips. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, invites us to spend less money during Lent and use this money to care for the poor.

There are several advantages to fasting, three in particular. First, the experience of physical hunger reminds us that our deepest hunger is spiritual, that nothing can satisfy our deepest hunger except God. Second, our voluntary experience of hunger creates a bond with those who are hungry involuntarily. It bonds us with those who are in need and who depend on the generosity of others for even the basics of life. In this way, fasting can lead us to charitable giving of money as well as giving our time and talents to others and God. And third, abstinence from food often leads us to discover some behaviors from which we need to “fast.” For example, we may need to “fast” from making negative comments, engaging in gossip and other idle conversation, or by spending an excessive amount of time by visiting inappropriate sites on the Internet.

We have four Masses on Ash Wednesday:  8:00 am, 11:00 am, 5:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. We have also scheduled several activities during Lent including a parish mission, penance service, Bible study by Deacon Vince, Stations of the Cross and other activities. I encourage you to participate in as many of these events as possible. Please refer to the flyer which was mailed to you earlier this week or call the parish office if you need more information on any specific program. In order to make this Lenten season more meaningful, I pray that you use this season of Lent as an opportunity to grow closer to God

-Fr. Devdas