Dear Friends in Christ,
Ash Wednesday falls this year on 1 March, and so the beginning of Lent is less than three weeks away. Now is the time to prepare to keep a holy Lent by deciding on a path to a more intense and intentional following of the Lord Jesus in the Way of the Cross, and we will offer several means to help you do that at St Mary’s.
We will sing Vespers each Sunday of Lent at 5 pm. Thirty minutes of sacred silence and peaceful prayer together with plainchant and polyphony is a splendid way to enter deeply into the 40 Days.
We will pray the Stations of the Cross each Friday of Lent at 6 pm, and immediately after the Stations we will host a simple supper of soup and sandwiches in Pazdan Hall.
On four Thursdays of Lent (March 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th) I will teach a class at 6.30 pm in McGrady Hall on several topics dealing with the interior life, continuing conversion, and how to make a good Confession.
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 3 April, 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.
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. There is one exception to that rule this year because the Memorial of St Patrick falls on Friday 17 March, and Bishop Guglielmone has granted a dispensation from abstinence to any Catholic in South Carolina who wants to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the traditional manner. Those, however, who take advantage of the dispensation should find another penitential discipline for that day.
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 and should do through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and the reason for urgency in a renewed effort to be faithful disciples will be given on Ash Wednesday: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. So repent, and believe in the Gospel!