Pastor’s Corner – February 18, 2018
On this First Sunday of Lent, we hear the words of Jesus after His forty days in the desert: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Today, we focus on Jesus’ command to repent and believe in the gospel. The word “repent” is used in common parlance as meaning sorrow for one’s sins. However, there are several nuanced meanings of “repent,” which is used to translate a Greek word in the bible. The original Greek word also means “to change,” especially to change one’s mind or to change the “inner person,” particularly in accepting the will of God. It has the additional implied meaning of thinking differently after an event. For our purposes today, the call of Jesus to repentance is not only a call to be sorry for our sins, but also by the gift of His Grace to change our lives in accord with the Gospel that He preaches. This is the underlying theme of Lent, the hope that we can change for the better by our practice of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Ultimately, repentance includes what we commonly refer to as “conversion.” Let us pray that during this season we are able to change our lives to live more closely to the fullness of the Gospel that Jesus teaches us, resulting in a deeper faith, a stronger hope and a life of greater charity.
With the beginning of Lent, questions always arise about our disciplines of fast and abstinence. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics in good health and who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound to fast may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to each one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. Some of the spiritual goals of Fasting are to remind us to create a place in our lives where we hunger for God and God alone, and to remind us that we are weak, mortal beings who are totally dependent on God and blessed and loved by him. The money saved from our fasting is also rightly given as alms to the poor and needy among us. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics in good health and who are 14 years or older on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and on all Fridays of Lent. Abstinence from meat is not required on other Fridays during the year, but some form of penance or self-denial should be observed on Fridays in remembrance of Jesus’ passion and death caused by our sins. Abstinence from meat is meant to be a penitential practice, and the money saved in our simpler meals is also rightly given as alms to the poor and needy among us.
Our preparation of our parish directory is moving along nicely, but many of us still need to sign up for a time to take family portraits to be included in the directory. As I half-jokingly said at Mass last week, please make your first act of Lenten discipline signing up for a time for the portrait. Consider signing up an act of Lenten “almsgiving,” as the term “almsgiving” is used to denote acts of charity. It is definitely an act of charity towards our volunteers (whose efforts are sincerely appreciated) if everyone would sign up for a time so that they don’t have to do the additional work of making phone calls to schedule each family.
Also, please remember that you can sign up online at https://booknow-lifetouch.appointment-plus.com/y9y4rv63/. This link is also be posted on our website, www.stlandrycatholicchurch.org. Thanks again to our volunteers and all who have already signed up, and we look forward to the success of this Centennial project.