Feb. 10, 2016
Our 2016 Lenten journey of faith cannot be isolated from current world events. Dire poverty, mass migration, persecution and unrelenting violence cause such terror in the lives of millions of individuals. Fueled by greed, anger and self-righteous intolerance, hardened hearts are breaking untold fragile lives. Closer to home, joblessness and drug abuse lead to a sense of hopelessness and discouragement.
Pope Francis urges us not to remain indifferent or to treat as routine such affronts to human life and dignity. Hurting people, near and far, need our care and attention.
Can Lent this Jubilee Year of Mercy be different for you and me?
As I probe the depth of God’s mercy and compassion for me, will I muster the Spirit’s gift of courage to reach out and accompany the hurting with the same loving concern I receive from God?
The Lenten Season provides the setting where we can avail ourselves of opportunities to grow closer to our merciful Lord.
Daily Mass, faith formation classes, Eucharistic adoration, the Stations of the Cross, fasting, and celebration of the Sacrament of Penance are graced means to encounter Jesus, to experience His merciful love, and to deepen our love for Him.
As the Holy Father teaches, “what the Church tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy…remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things,” Pope Francis writes, “will we be judged.”
While, perhaps, most of us are not able to offer personally these works of mercy to those suffering terrible afflictions across the globe, we can, we must be attentive to the hurting in our neighborhoods.
Many of our parish families have a long history of social outreach to the hurting. Organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, to name just a few, along with local Church and community groups are engaged in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This Lent can be the occasion where I consider my own participation in such works in my own neighborhood.
I pray that through the graces and spiritual strength we receive from our participation at Eucharist and other Lenten devotional practices, God’s mercy can clear our vision to see the hurting in our midst and transform our hearts to respond with tenderness and compassion to their needs. Let us pray for one another.
Lenten regulations for 2016
February 10 is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Season of Lent.
Prayer & penance
Parishes are highly encouraged to offer periods of Eucharistic Adoration during the Lenten Season, as well as, the traditional devotions of the Stations of the Cross and the recitation of the Rosary. In addition, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is asking the Catholic faithful to turn their attention to and live out in an even fuller way this Lent the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Sacrament of Penance
Eucharistic Adoration in all parishes. Parish priests are asked to plan their schedules accordingly to observe this request of the Pope. In addition, parishes might want to adopt the model of dedicating one Lenten evening each week to providing occasion for the Sacrament of Penance, as suggested in previous years.