My Dear Parishioners:
Once again we find ourselves in the Season of Lent, these blessed 40 days, which will conclude with the start of the Holy Triduum on the evening of Holy Thursday, April 6th. Below are some suggestions for you to consider this Lent:
1) I hope all of you are aware of our parish subscription to the online platform called FORMED. On FORMED you will find a large number of videos and series on Lent. I can recommend to you the following series:
"Whole 40: Making a Spiritual Plan for Lent"; "Formed in the Word"; “The Tears of Christ” – mediations on Lent from the writings of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman; "The Spirituality of Lent"; "Fearless"; and for our kids, "Lent with Brother Francis". To find any of them, just simply type in the title of the series in the search button of FORMED.
To subscribe to FORMED (which is of no charge to you), you can go to the button marked "Sign up for FORMED" on the homepage of our parish website: www.myparish.org or else you can simply go to Nativity of Our Lord (myparish.org)
2) During Lent, we will continue to celebrate on Fridays the regular 9:30 am Mass; however, in addition, we will also celebrate a mass at 7:00 pm. This mass will be followed by the Stations of the Cross, led by the different organizations of the parish. All parishioners are invited to attend.
3) A reminder that Fridays during Lent are days of fasting and abstinence. The requirement of Abstinence means that on Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday, we abstain from all meat products, such as pork, chicken and beef. The law of fasting requires us to eat only one full meal a day, as well as having snacks as needed during the day to sustain one's strength. Please note though that the law of fasting only applies to those who are of the ages of 18 - 59.
4) Another Lenten practice is going to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will continue to hold confessions at the church on Saturdays from 4 pm - 4:30 pm. We will also hold our Lenten Reconciliation evening on Monday, March 27th from 6:45 pm - 8 pm, in the church, with a number of priests present.
Finally, some thoughts on Lent itself. The word Lent comes from an old English word Lencten, which means “springtime”. When I first learned this, I was much surprised, and to be honest a bit amused. For growing up as a boy, in my eyes, Lent was a season of giving up things, a season of prayer and almsgiving and fasting (as we hear in the gospel of Ash Wednesday Mt. 6: 1-6, 16-18), a season that had to be "endured" until Easter. Trust me, the new life of spring was the last thing that came to mind when it came to Lent. Of course, I was wrong in my thought about Lent, and most definitely in those 3 practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. then I just thought it something that I had to get through.
When I think of them now, I realize that two of the 3 practices require us to share - thus, prayer requires us to share our time with our God as we strive to deepen our relationship with Him. Almsgiving requires us to share our monetary resources, especially with charitable causes such as Sharelife or your parish community. On the other hand, fasting focusses more on giving up - it could be of food, or drink, or video games, or television or any other activity. By fasting, we are enabled to begin to see what we truly need rather than what we think we need, and in so doing, help ourselves in physical, emotional and spiritual ways, as well as bring us closer to our God. In any case, all 3 practices are good for me, and good for all of you.
It is true – Lent should be understood as an opportunity for new life and growth within oneself. All the disciplines we follow in Lent are meant to redirect our minds to what is truly important – our God, and our faith. My parishioners, I ask this of you: What are you going to do this Lent – in terms of giving up things, but most importantly, doing things? What can you do this Lent to help you along the road to becoming a saint, to help you to go “all in” for Jesus? Let’s make this Lent a real springtime.
Peace and blessings to all of you! Fr. Michael Machacek