Our catechumens, who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil, were sent from our 12 noon Mass to celebrate the Rite of Election with Bishop O'Connell at the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine in Freehold. Here they are pictured with their familes and members of our RCIA catechetical team.
From the Bishops of the United States:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
Fasting is 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.
Abstinence from meat is binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onward.
The distinction between fasting and abstaining is a little confusing, particularly because people have begun to talk about "fasting" from things like video games, television programs, etc. during Lent. Fasting was traditionally understood as voluntarily having an empty stomach for a while.
Abstinence, such as when one abstains from voting, means refraining from something. Abstaining from meat is refraining from eating meat, but not necessarily going with an empty stomach, since full meals may be eaten unless one is also fasting. Abstaining from alcohol, dessert, etc. is the typical "giving up" something for Lent tradition many Catholics still practice. These sacrifices typically have no relation to whether or not the person is also fasting.
Fasting is not enjoined on anyone whose age or medical condition makes it unwise. Abstinence is still a worthy practice during Lent. It strengthens our self-discipline as the opening prayer in today's mass acknowledges. In small matters, we experience victory over whims or passing pleasures strengthening our prudence and restraint. These virtues serve us well in everyday life and during times of temptation.
A Jesuit priest who became confessor to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and was the first to believe the authenticity of her visions and revelations. St. Claude and St. Margaret Mary promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart during a time in the French Church when Jansenism (a particularly severe and gloomy spirituality) was afoot.
The mercy of a loving Jesus was a refreshing and necessary counterpoint to this viewpoint.
He was later transferred to England and became the confessor to the Duchess of York but was falsely ensnared in the "Popish Plot" during the Titus Oates controversy, was imprisoned and nearly lost his life but for the intercession of King Louis XIV.
His health suffered greatly during his cruel imprisonment and he never fully recovered after his return to France.
His bones are preserved in the chapel outside which this statue stands. He points to an image of the Sacred Heart inscribed with the words, "He loved but was loved not." This highlights an aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart which is to make reparation for the insults and slights to Jesus' love for us.
The green, fresh, joyful palms of celebration on Palm Sunday have withered and been burned, nothing left but ash.
We also remember that we have been baptized into an eternal cycle of life with Christ through his birth, death and resurrection. A supernatural cycle which supervenes the temporal one.
Let us resolve to observe this Lenten season with prayer, fasting and almsgiving to grow closer to Jesus who is our Hope.