Lent is upon us! Can you believe it? This Wednesday, February 28, is Ash Wednesday.
Our schedule of Lenten services is listed elsewhere in this bulletin. You will note that we have two Masses on Ash Wednesday. Ashes will be distributed at each Mass. These are a sacramental reminder of our duty and our promise to do penance during Lent. On the weekdays of Lent we will have two daily Masses, Noon and 5:30 p.m.
Easter is April 15th this year. Tax day! That’s usually the painful day that is the deadline for income taxes to be filed. I saw a sign at a Protestant church the other day, "Heaven—No Pain—All Gain. Well, I’m not sure about the "no pain" part. Accepting Christ into our lives means a willingness to take up His cross. It’s part of what Lent is all about—penance and prayer to prepare for the greatest Christian Feast—the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead—Easter Sunday.
The date of Easter is calculated as being the Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox. Some "ecclesiastical calculators" consider March 21 the date of the equinox, though it is not astronomically so every year. The earliest Easter can be is March 22.
Lent for Catholics means three things: Almsgiving, Fasting, and Prayer.
Almsgiving is generous giving to those in need. During Lent, we deliberately schedule some so-called "second collections" for special purposes. It’s time to think about others beside ourselves, in particular those less fortunate.
Our collection on Ash Wednesday and the second collection next weekend will be for the Black and Indian Missions in our country. Some of our own archdiocesan parishes serving African-American Catholics benefit from this collection. Please be generous. There will be a second collection for some special group in need each Sunday during Lent here at Holy Rosary.
Fasting means saying "No" to ourselves. It’s practice in self-control, which leads us to the ability to say "No" to temptation. It’s also a reminder that the things of this world are not all there is. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence (no meat, no eating between meals, our two lesser meals put together should not outweigh our main meal of the day. All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
This is the minimum. In addition, we need to do penance by saying "No" to some things or "Yes" to other things. Many folks give up candy, or alcohol, or some television, or other pleasures. Others do positive things. Some examples are more time visiting shut-ins, cleaning out those closets or drawers we’ve been meaning to get to, being more conscious of the needs others, being more punctual, trying to be more patient in traffic. Each person can tailor their "Lenten Penance" to their own individual circumstances.
Prayer is essential to a good Lent. Individual prayer like reading Scripture, some quiet time each day just to talk to God, the rosary or other private devotions are good suggestions. In addition to our regular schedule of Masses here at Holy Rosary, we will have some "extras" during Lent. As I noted earlier, these are listed elsewhere in the bulletin. I would like to note that confessions are heard before every Mass here at Holy Rosary. I know of no other parish in the archdiocese where this sacrament is so readily available on a regular basis. I encourage everyone to take advantage of it. The Sacrament of Penance is an essential part of Lent for all of us.
The Stations of the Cross are a wonderful Lenten devotion. In order to make it more convenient for folks, we’ve decided to offer these immediately after both Masses on the Fridays of Lent. This will enable people from the Mass to stay a bit longer in order to attend. We’re hoping many will take advantage of this convenience. I guess we need to keep in mind that this is the age of "one stop shopping!" We’re also aware that many of our parishioners find it difficult to get to church after dark.
Many, many thanks to Maggie and Bernie Greene and the Parish Council for the wonderful Valentine Dinner-Dance in Priori Hall last Saturday night. We had a great crowd; we had to set up more tables to accommodate everyone. Many of our "old timers" came back for the Mass, dinner, and dance that evening. It was lots of fun!
We are the Italian Parish of Indianapolis. The Feast of Saint Joseph, patron of Italy, is March 19. Holy Rosary’s annual Saint Joseph’s Table at Primo will be all Sunday afternoon March 18, from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit Catholic Education.
Have a good Lent! Faithfully yours in God's Providence,
Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel