6th Sunday of the Year

Dear Friends in Christ,

The 40 Days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on 5 March — two weeks from this Wednesday. In the service of keeping a holy Lent, it is time to make a Plan of Life which should include the three pillars of lenten discipline: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. For example, you could resolve to …

+ begin each day with a morning offering — a short prayer of dedication for the new day
+ attend Mass every day as often as possible
+ pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, especially Vespers at 5 pm on the Sundays of Lent
+ walk the Way of the Cross, especially at 6 pm on the Fridays of Lent
+ give more to those who have least, perhaps through the Poor Box at the church doors
+ go to Confession
+ eat less at each meal to be reminded of our need to be filled with grace
+ study Holy Scripture each day, perhaps by reading the Mass lessons
+ make the Sign of the Cross and pray before every meal, even in public
+ work to strengthen your marriage or, for those not married, renew an old friendship
+ invite someone to come with you to Mass
+ read something to deepen your knowledge of the Catholic Faith
+ close each day with an evening offering — a short prayer of thanks for the day just done

One way of drawing several of these strands together would be to read one entry on each day of Lent in the new book “Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches” by George Weigel. This book gives an account of the ancient Roman custom of Mass in a different church on each day of Lent, and the text combines notes on the history, art and architecture of each church along with theological meditations on the Scripture readings appointed for the day. “Roman Pilgrimage” is a beautifully bound book, but the Kindle and other e-editions may be preferable in this case because all the photographs in the digital version are high resolution and in color and can be expanded for close inspection.

The Ceremonial of Bishops describes the 40 Days and the purpose of our lenten discipline in these words: “The annual observance of Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter. Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens (those preparing for baptism) and the faithful (those already baptized) to celebrate the paschal mystery. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation … and the faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.”

Father Newman