From the Pastor’s Desk: March 9, 2014
Today we celebrate the First Sunday of the Holy Season of Lent. The forty days of Lent that began on Ash Wednesday unites us to the forty-day experience of Jesus in the desert at the start of His ministry.
Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI says that Lent is “a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter.” (Sept. 29, 2005) This “privileged time” has almost been forgotten. There are no signs of it as we go about our daily lives. No signs of preparation. No signs of penance. Instead, the commercial world rushes right into the chocolate bunnies and colorful eggs. We need a more fitting way to herald Christianity's primary feast - the Great Feast of Easter. Therefore, Lent is forty days of examining our lives (more than we normally do) to become aware of the ways we succumb to temptation so that we can ask for and receive forgiveness and to grow stronger in holiness. Lent is a time of purification. To help us with this, we have three special practices: Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving.
We fast to improve self-control in an act of solidarity with those who are less fortunate. It also reminds us that everything we have is a blessing from God. Throughout all of Lent, we make personal sacrifices in a spirit of penance. For example, in sadness for our sins we might dine out less or stop watching TV shows that glorify immoral behavior.
On Fridays, Catholics age 14 and older abstain from meat. Why Fridays? Because it unites us to the day of our Lord's death. Why abstain from meat? Because during biblical times, meat was considered a food of rejoicing, since it was not always available. We abstain from eating meat (“the food of rejoicing”) in mourning for Jesus and the death He suffered for our sins.
Lent is an invitation to grow closer to God. Because prayer improves our relationship with God, we pray more during Lent. In our parish we will offer increased opportunities for prayer. In addition to our regular weekly Masses and devotions, we will offer the Stations of the Cross on Fridays and invite you to participate in the Lenten Mission but we should also increase our prayers at home and wherever we go. In addition, we may consider attending Daily Mass or increasing our personal life of prayer and devotions, e.g. praying the Rosary. Almsgiving is an act of charity. We put our faith into action by sacrificing time, talents, and financial resources. By giving priority to doing good deeds (for example, helping the less fortunate), we make self-denial a personal penance for our sins, and we grow in
I pray that this Lent will be a time of conversion, a chance to examine our lives through prayer, fasting, and charity, and to conform ourselves to the life of Christ.
This weekend in our parish, we are conducting the Bishop’s Annual Stewardship Appeal that asks all parishioners to make a financial commitment to our Diocese. Bishop Estévez has prepared a short video to share what the goals of the Appeal are and three areas where the donations received will be used – Catholic Charities, Catholic Education, as well as to fund the education of the seminarians who will serve all of the churches in our diocese. As your Pastor, I want to assure you that the funds you contribute are deeply appreciated by our seminarians and the thousands of people who will benefit from your generosity. On behalf of Bishop Estévez and myself, I thank you for your generous
contribution to the Bishop’s Annual Stewardship Appeal. May God bless you!
Have a blessed and renewing season of Lent!
St.Luke's Catholic Church | 1606 Blanding Blvd. Middleburg, FL 32068-4092 | (904) 282-0439