Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ!  Now and forever! 

The Holy Season of Lent begins this week with ASH WEDNESDAY, February 25th, 2009.  Ash Wednesday is a day for Catholics to fast and abstain from meats. 

Each Lenten Friday also remains a day of abstinence from eating meats.  Although Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, traditionally the imposition of blessed ashes on this day has made it more popular than some holy days.  On this day, the ashes used are made by burning the dried palms from Palm Sunday of the previous year.  The priest blesses the ashes after the Homily and then marks all present with the Sign of the Cross on the forehead saying “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).  Extraordinary ministers of communion may assist with the imposition of ashes, especially for the sick and shut-ins. 

Whenever Catholics are marked with the blessed ashes, the symbolism is clear: during the Holy Lenten season they are to turn their hearts back to God, repent of their sinful ways by a good Sacramental Confession, and embrace the Gospel way of the Lord. 

As we begin once again this Solemn Season of Holy Lent on February 25th, we are given the opportunity once again to begin a serious journey of fasting, weeping, mourning and repenting, like the people of Israel.  While we individually observe Lent, we also do it as a Christian community.  Together, we will hear the Lenten gospels that challenge us to a deeper faith in the Paschal mystery. 

The Gospels offered at the beginning of Lent are meant to challenge us, personally and as a Christian community, not to fail in our responsibility to draw closer to the Lord through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and sincere works of penance.  I invite you to take seriously the Holy Season of Lent before us.  Lenten days are wonderful times to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion.  To begin to pray the Holy Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and to make the Stations of the Cross. 

Please take home your Rice Bowl Container as we participate this Lenten time in OPERATION RICE BOWL 2009, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services.  Place the sacrifices you make this Lent into your rice bowl with simple meals and fasting with the world’s poor.  Seventy-five percent of these funds raised will go overseas, and twenty-five percent will remain here in the Diocese of Norwich for poverty relief work. 

Open your Bible and read the scriptures during Lent and meditate on God’s work daily.  Dust off that crucifix in your home and use it to contemplate Christ’s sufferings on the cross.  Unite your sufferings, pains, difficulties, and troubles with Jesus Christ crucified.  Live Lent anew and grow in the graces of another Season of Lent soon to begin this week.

                                                                Have a blessed Lenten Season. 
                                                       
     Come to Mass on Ash Wednesday! 
                                
                                    Devotedly in Christ Crucified, 
                                                
                                                Father Jim 
                                                            SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com                              

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