Dear Friends in Christ:
Warning! Warning! St. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day this year! What does that mean? It means that Ash Wednesday has precedence! Ash Wednesday of course is a day of fasting, abstinence and sacrifice. Those are not necessarily the primary ingredients for a nice romantic dinner. For all of you love birds out there, you may wish to have your romantic dinner before Lent begins. If your friends (or the waiter at the restaurant) ask you why you are celebrating St. Valentine’s Day early, that can be a wonderful opportunity to offer witness to the faith. Don’t be shy, tell them about Lent, fasting, Ash Wednesday and Easter. Share with them how the love of Jesus is even greater and stronger than your love for another and enriches your love for another!
Speaking of Lent, I received a beautiful e-mail from Fr. Patrice, rector of the Shrine of Ars and successor to St. John Vianney as pastor of the parish of Ars. In the exchange, we recounted his wonderful visit to us last year during Lent for the Dedication of the Altar and his mission talks to the parish. We are also in the process of arranging a parish pilgrimage to Ars. The best news is that he is coming to visit us again! Details to come. Lent of course is a time of spiritual renewal and preparation for the great celebration of the Paschal Mystery. As we have in the past, we will have mass and confessions three times a day each weekday during Lent (9:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m. 7:00 p.m.). We will also offer Stations of the Cross and have Eucharistic Benediction on Fridays. As always, we will have Morning and Evening Prayer (Lauds and Vespers) and the communal rosary each weekday and the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Wednesday evenings and of course, Eucharistic Adoration is 24/7. I strongly encourage and recommend that you make it part of your regular practice to stop by and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week besides Sunday Mass. Maybe on your way to or from work or while you are running errands or after you drop the kids off at school or with the kids after soccer or band practice. Make it a habit to drop by the church and offer a prayer. St. Francis de Sales (feast day – January 24), said that all of us should have at least thirty minutes of mediation each day. For those who were too busy for 30 minutes, he advised an hour! This Lent, make a plan to spend some time with the Lord each day, place your heart before the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you be open to the graces he wants you to have this Lent. Ask the Lord to give you the courage to slow down and listen to him. Ask the Lord for the strength to follow not our will but His will for us.
Here is one of my favorite prayers. It is called The Prayer of Abandonment:
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately