Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2016 which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016.
In [declaring] the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy first-hand.
The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion. This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate.”
God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbor and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practicing the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy—counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer—we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need.
Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favorable a time for conversion! We ask this through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness (cf. Luke 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (cf. Luke 1:38).
From the Vatican, October 4, 2015
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Ash Wednesday Mass Schedule
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Saint Casimir Church
4:00pm Spanish Mass
Church of the Resurrection
12:00 Noon Mass
7:00 pm Mass
The Origin of Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday entered the calendar in the early sixth century when the desire arose to have forty actual days of fasting before Easter. Sundays were never fast days, so to get to forty, one had to add four days to the six weeks of Lent.
In the Christian lands along the Rhine River the devotional practice of imposing ashes arose as people imitated what they heard in Bible passages such as 2Samuel 13:19, Ezekiel 27:30, Job 2:12, and Jonah 3:6. What was once a private devotion came to be practiced publicly in the eighth century, and by the year 1000 it was commonplace in many celebrations at the beginning of Lent.
The distribution of ashes was formally added to the Missal at Rome in the thirteenth century and this ancient symbol of repentance is now widely used among most Christian denominations at the beginning of Lent.
Lent is the 40-day season of penance in preparation for the celebration of the redemption of the human race by Jesus Christ. It ends on Holy Thurs., April 2, and is followed by the Sacred Triduum, April 3-4 and Easter Sunday, April 5. Please read the following Guidelines for Fasting and Abstinence:
Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by everyone 18 years and older, who has not yet celebrated their 59th birthday. On a fast day, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals, enough to maintain strength, may be taken, according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but consuming liquids, including milk and juices, is allowed.
Abstinence is observed by everyone 14 years of age or older. On days of abstinence, no meat is allowed. Note that when health or the ability to work is affected, the law does not oblige. Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays during Lent, and Good Friday are days of abstinence. If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, other suitable forms of self-denial are encouraged.
There are many challenges to raising a child in today’s world with regular acts of terrorism, social media threats, and the increasingly intense competition on the playing fields and in the classroom for our young people. Many generations of parents have faced adversity as they raised children during the Great Depression, various wars, and times of social unrest. A fact that hasn’t changed, however, is that for hundreds of years Catholic education has helped families teach children values.
Next week, beginning January 31, we will celebrate the attributes of Catholic education throughout the United States during Catholic Schools Week 2016. Public school districts are thankful for the relief in tax dollars created by private schools. Based on the average public school cost of $10,652 per student, Catholic schools provide a savings of nearly $21 billion for U.S taxpayers. Parents are thankful for an education that is faith-based and in which learning to pray is part of the culture. Students are thankful for a second home that provides a caring and scholarly community built around faith. National statistics show that 99.4 percent of Catholic secondary school students graduate and 84.9 percent go on to college.
In the midst of the challenges posed to parents every day, students in Catholic schools are reminded of values about how to be Christ like, how to bring those values into their community, and how to lead with those values when they graduate.
Students graduate with a moral compass entrenched in a sense of integrity, having learned to relate with God through prayer, sacrament, service, and personal relationships. The Catholic School graduate will embrace cultural, economic, and spiritual diversity in life as she or he enters the world as a future leader in our global society. Next week, we will celebrate the value of Catholic education based in a faith community. “Community is at the heart of all Catholic education, not simply as a concept to be taught, but as a reality to be lived. . . . Your students will learn to understand and appreciate the value of community as they experience love, trust, and loyalty in your school and educational programs, and as they learn to trust all persons as brothers and sisters created by God and redeemed by Christ,” said Pope John Paul II.
Thank you to all who have chosen to support Catholic education.
The weekend of January 30/31 is the kickoff to Catholic Schools week. In anticipation of this week, a special collection will be taken which will benefit the Catholic elementary schools of the Diocese of Camden.
If you picked up an envelope this weekend at Mass, in support of these Catholic schools, please return your donation next weekend, January 30/31, by placing your envelopes into the collection baskets at the time of the first collection at any of the Masses.
This is the first collection of its kind and will directly underwrite the cost of providing catholic education. As Pope Francis has told us, “as Catholics we have a moral imperative to support catholic education.” This collection will thereby benefit both the schools themselves as well as families looking to make Catholic education a possibility for their children.
Please consider giving generously
We are coming to the end of another year. The media is filled with commentaries on the year that will soon be consigned to history, and speculative predictions on what lies ahead. We have always marked time by significant events. The real question is not whether we will mark time, but how we will do so. What events and what messages are we proclaiming?
How many times have we spoken of the stress we have experienced due to the demands on our time? Yet, for the Christian, time is not meant to become a tyrant ruling over us. Time is the road along which God’s loving plan of redemption proceeds in our individual lives and in the history of this world.
The Lord who created time gives us time as a gift. By entering into time He removed the curse it held over all men and women by defeating death. In Him, time now becomes a field of choice wherein we can grow in holiness, experience true happiness and find real freedom. We can begin to participate in God’s loving plan to recreate the entire cosmos in and through Jesus Christ.
Christians mark time by the great events of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are moving toward His loving return. For Catholic Christians, the Catholic liturgical year follows a rhythmic cycle. It points us toward beginnings and ends and, in so doing, emphasizes an important truth that can only be grasped through faith, every end is a beginning.
So it is with each day of our lives. There really is a Divine design. Every morning invites us to begin again. Hope is reborn with every sunrise. As we move from one year to the next, we also move along the in the timeline of human life allotted to each one of us. We age. The certainty of our death is meant to illuminate our life and the certainty of the end of all time and the coming of the Lord is meant to illuminate time’s very purpose and fulfillment in Christ.
As the Apostle John recorded in the Revelation he received on the Island of Patmos, our use of time is meant to bear good fruit. We are called to bear a harvest which will accompany us into eternity. It will – if we have an intimate relationship with the One who both gives and governs time. Time is the opportunity for the Christian to bear fruit that remains. Jesus reminds us, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (St. John 15: 16, 17).
We can decide whether we will use time for bearing good fruit or are used by time as a tyrant who frightens us as we fruitlessly try to resist his claim on our perceived youth. This act of choosing rightly helps us to develop a disposition; a way of living that involves the proper exercise of our human freedom aided by grace.
Almost two thousand years ago the ancient Greek writer, Seneca, wrote: “It is not that we have so little time, but that we have wasted so much of it” St. Paul wrote to Greek Christians, centuries later in Ephesus: ” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men (and women) but as wise making the most of the time.” (Ephesians 5: 15ff).
I invite you in this coming New Year to live as though time really does matter. We are invited by grace to give ourselves away for others; to imitate the One who gave Himself for the entire human race. We are invited to pour ourselves out as Jesus did. If we live life this way, when we face Him on that final day, we will do so with our arms full of gifts borne over time. These gifts will have paved the way for eternity
May you know the fullness of God’s blessings in this New Year of Our Lord,
Discover a beautiful faith in the Catholic Church.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “The difficulty in explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church to preserve the truth He gave us and hand it down through the centuries, helping people all around the world encounter the love of God in every age and in every corner of the earth.
Over the years, there have been an untold number of questions and objections raised about the Catholic Church’s teachings and practices. The answers are there, and it’s worth your time to find them. As the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not even 100 people in this country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church to be.”
I invite all our parishioners to come to any or all of the following reflections, from 7pm to 8pm in the extension of the Church of the Resurrection to touch upon some of the beauty of our Catholic Faith:
September 30: The Creed, “I believe in God . . . Creator . . .” “I believe in one . . .”
October 7: “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord” “I believe in . . . holy . . . ”
October 14: “Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit” “I believe in . . . apostolic”
October 28: The Holy Catholic Church – The Hierarchy, Mary and the Communion of Saints
November 11: Divine Revelation: Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium, Liturgy
November 18: Salvation History, “The Resurrection of the body and Life Everlasting”
December 2: Sacrament of Initiations – Baptism and Confirmation
December 9: Sacrament of Initiation – Eucharist and Mass
January 6: Sacrament of Vocation – Holy Orders and Marriage
January 20: Sacrament of Healing – Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation
February 3: Sin and Morality, Preparation for Lent
February 17: Prayer
February 24: Tour of the Church – Sacramentals