Lent

St. Enda - Founder of Irish Monasticism

Enda
Sts. Fanchea and Enda

Saint Enda was converted from warrior-prince to priest by his sister, St. Abbess Fanchea. He spent his life as a monk, eventually becoming abbot of a monastery on the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland. These barren islands were chosen because of their inaccessibility and difficult climate.   He was a tremendous influence on other Irish saints over history, including our own saints Kieran and  Colomba. 

Well
St. Enda's Holy Well is located on the island of Inisheer, the easternmost of the three Aran Islands.

Aran_Islands_location

The Irish monks on the Aran Islands lived austere lives of poverty, penance and prayer. We need not exactly copy their example, but are nevertheless called to abstain from some pleasures, do penance and pray during Lent.


God's Forgiveness vs. Human Forgiveness

FaceForgive and Forget. You've heard the expression, maybe even had someone proffer this advice. 
There are lots of other slogans in riposte - "Forgive, but keep a list of names," "Forgive, but never forget," "Forgive what hurt you but never what you learned." Our human nature is not attuned to forgetfulness, especially for dangers or harms, but we can take the first step in the process of forgiveness by surrendering the right to get even and stating our grievance.

With God, however, forgiveness is a different story. In this morning's readings, God's forgiveness is described as complete and efficacious. We go from being on the path to destruction to the path of life. God promises to offer life and forget our sins if we turn from our sinful ways. This is the hope of repentance in Lent.

 


Leviticus 19

This morning's reading from Leviticus gives what the bible calls, "various rules of conduct," distinct from the 10 Commandments. A ban on tattoos, eating meat not drained of animal blood, cutting beards and other demands on daily life, were meant to remind a faithful Jew of the Lord's dominion. Also mentioned in the same passage is gleaning, the practice of leaving behind 10% of a field's produce so the poor may also harvest the land. Instead of extracting every last penny of profit, landowners were required to share their produce - a good admonition for all of us this Lent. 

Gleaning
Gleaners

The Finger Pointing To The Moon

Fingersmoon

The finger represents the spiritual practices which point toward something greater, not something to be focused on in itself. 

Although this metaphor comes from Buddhism, it has been used by Catholic spiritual directors to place proper emphasis on all spiritual practices. Spiritual practices should lead to God, not become an end in themselves. Since we love and need tangible sacramentals, there is always a risk we may place too much emphasis on them.

In Lent, these tangibles are our ascetic and charitable practices. They are meant to lead us to God, not distract us and surely not to become an end in themselves.  

Catholic spiritual writers describe the same movement in proper Marian devotion. Mary always points to Jesus.

Mary

May all our works of charity, acts of self control and prayers kindle in us a more fervent love of God.

 

 


Fast and Abstinence During Lent

Fast
Fast
Abstain
Abstain



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 


Ash Wednesday To Begin Our Lenten Observance

AshesToday we remember that we all are part of the natural cycle. We may hear "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return," as the ashes are imposed on our foreheads.

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.

 


Palm Burning For Ash Wednesday Ashes

Flame
High winds and inclement weather often postpone our outdoor palm burning and this year was no exception. Delayed due to the high winds of last week, we have rescheduled the ceremonial fire for Monday, February 12th at 1 PM so our school children can be present. Parishioners are also invited for this brief, 15 minute prayer service.

 


The Mainstream Media Get Right To The Heart of Catholicism: To Eat Meat On Saint Patrick's Day Or Not?

Libby-corned-beef

It's amazing, really. What bothers the Catholic conscience in America? Abortion, contraception, assisted-suicide, same sex-marriage, cohabitation before marriage, sexual promiscuity, dismal weekly mass attendance, attacks on Religious Liberty?  Nope. As the media would have it, troubled Catholic consciences only seek episcopal counsel for dispensation to eat meat whenever St. Patrick's day falls on a Friday in Lent. 

Corned beef (salted beef) is actually not a national dish of Ireland, but rather of the American Irish. Native Irish could not consume beef because of it high cost. The British confiscation of the best Irish pastureland to produce beef for export to England forced the Irish to turn to potato farming on the less productive land left for their use. This had tragic consequences for the Irish during the potato blight. Whatever beef not consumed by the British themselves was preserved as corned beef to help feed the vast numbers of slaves being captured and transported throughout the world by the colonial powers. On this side of the Atlantic, corned beef was cheap. When the Irish immigrants arrived they took to eating this luxury meat (of slaves)they couldn't afford in Ireland.

 

It would be a truly praiseworthy practice, for American Catholics to have a meatless St. Patrick's day when it falls on Friday in Lent, rather than appeal to their bishops for dispensations. Think about the courage of St. Patrick, an escaped slave who returned to face his pagan captors with no army or weapon save the power of the Cross of Christ. 

It doesn't look like a Friday Lenten St. Patrick's Day occurs again until 2023, so perhaps there's time to plan for our Meatless St. Patrick Day Celebrations then?

 

 

 

 


Thoughtful Reading for Lent - "Silence" by S. Endo and "Strangers in a Strange Land" by Archbishop Charles Chaput

Those interested in some serious reading for Lent can surely find much to read in the Christian Classics and classic Christian literature, even novels with a Christian theme. 

There are two interesting opportunities for spiritual reflection based on contemporary literature:

Silence, an historical novel by Shusaku Endo written in 1966 is the source for a recently released movie of the same name directed by Martin Scorcese. It details the fate of the Catholics in Japan during the severe persecutions of the 17th century through the eyes of two Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Japan to find their Jesuit mentor who had reportedly apostasized. It was first screened at the Vatican for a select group of Jesuit priests after a meeting between Scorcese and Pope Francis.

The film is R rated for violence and gore. At first the Japanese regime tortured the missionary priests who arrived in Japan; later, they tortured the innocent Christians to coerce the missionary priests into abandoning the faith. I'd recommend the novel over the screen adaptation. Critics think the novel better than the movie and the movie surely requires a strong stomach.

A pivotal image is the ritual of e-fumi in which suspected Catholics were required to trample upon an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Those reluctant to do so were labelled Christians and often tortured or executed unless they abandoned the faith. Some of these images survive: 

    

History
17th Century Artifact
E-fumi
Recreation of apostasy in the film adaptation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 <><><>

 

A recent publication by Archbishop Charles Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post Christian World is his latest book dealing with American Catholicism. 

The book may serve as a wake-up call to some who might be surprised to hear a Catholic archbishop call the world, including America "post-Christian" but it will hardly be news to many faithful Catholics who have become more and more disheartened by the direction many of our Catholic educated children and grandchildren are trodding. The book gives encouragement to Catholics, not only because Chaput has the courage to describe our current situation truthfully, but calls on us to live the faith more authentically and prophetically.

Stranger
Stranger

 


Lent Begins

Ash
Today, Ash Wednesday, is the perfect day to reflect on God's mercy and not only our own need for forgiveness, but that of the church, our nation and the world. 

It's easier for us to come up with a list of others who need to seek forgiveness than it is for us to acknowledge our own sinfulness but we must not neglect this honest soul-searching during Lent. 

The sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes tells us, among other things, that we are all in this together - fellow disciples of Christ following him to the best of our ability with His help and willing to get up from each fall with renewed zeal. 

Please take a Lenten Magnificat from the parish office or the church to help in daily Lenten prayer. Confessions will be heard after the Saturday morning 9:00 AM mass and after Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings. Stations begin at 7:00 PM and confessions at approximately 7:30 PM.