Dear Friends in Christ,
Ash Wednesday is ten days away, and this year for the first time since 1945 Ash Wednesday coincides with the secular observance of Valentine’s Day. However, no dispensation from penance, fasting, and abstinence is given for Ash Wednesday, so if you intend to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it will need to be sometime other than 14 February. Perhaps Mardi Gras on 13 February would be the best choice.
To help you keep a holy Lent, we invite you to join us each Sunday of Lent for Vespers at 5 pm and each Friday of Lent for the Way of the Cross at 6 pm. Vespers is part of the Church’s official daily prayer called the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours, and our Sunday Vespers consists of thirty minutes of sacred silence, plainchant, and polyphony which together make an extraordinary experience of peaceful prayer. The Stations of the Cross are a summary of the path taken by the Lord Jesus on Good Friday from Pilate’s praetorium, through the streets of Jerusalem, to Calvary, to death on the Cross, and finally to burial in the Holy Sepulchre. Following Christ in the Way of the Cross has for centuries been a privileged way of growing closer to the Lord Jesus, and we invite you to come each Friday of Lent for this devotion and then stay for a simple supper of soup and sandwiches in Pazdan Hall. And to both Vespers and the Way of the Cross, please bring a friend, most especially a lapsed Catholic or a non-Catholic who might be interested in learning more about Catholic Christianity.
Lent is the perfect time to go to Confession as a preparation for Easter, and I urge you not to wait until the end of the 40 Days to do this. There will be about 20 priests hearing Confessions at St Mary Magdalene, Simpsonville at 7 pm on Monday 19 March, and Confessions are heard here each Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm by two priests and each Saturday from 3.30 to 4.30 pm by one priest. Also, please remember that every Friday of Lent is a day of abstinence from meat and that both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting as well as of abstinence.
Because Lent is a preparation for the renewal of our Baptismal promises at Easter, we will replace the Nicene Creed at Sunday Mass with the Apostles’ Creed which was the ancient Baptismal Profession of Faith in the Diocese of Rome. The use of this Creed should remind us that we have been purchased at a great price by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, into whose death we are plunged by our Baptism. And that is why we should seek now to conform our lives to His so that we can live in the power of His Resurrection as a new creation by grace through faith, first given to us in Baptism. This we can do through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and on Ash Wednesday we will be reminded why it is urgent to redouble our effort to live as faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Repent, and believe in the Gospel!