To help us prepare for the joy of Easter, the penitential season of Lent officially begins tomorrow. Ash Wednesday is so-named from the practice of imposing blessed ashes on the foreheads of penitents. The ashes themselves are traditionally made from burning the palms used in the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration, and invoke scriptural imagery, including, "All are from the dust, and to dust all will return" (Ecclesiastes 3:20), and, "I repent in dust and ashes," (Job 42:6).
Ashes are meant to remind us that we are mortal; just as God made us from the dust we will again return to the dust. Being reminded of our mortality, we should ponder our own death and whether we are prepared today for that eventuality. Are we in a right relationship with God? If the answer to that question is no, then Lent should lead us to repentance from our sins and a return to God. If we are in a right relationship with God, Lent can still lead us into a deepening conversion and draw us closer to Him.
Our Ash Wednesday service on campus will be at 12:30 in the chapel. It will consist of a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of ashes, and so will be somewhat shorter than an average Mass. Remember that non-Catholics can receive ashes, too (it's not like Holy Communion) and so this is a good opportunity to invite a friend to come with you and experience this rich tradition of the Church. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but for those who wish to go to a Mass, there are Masses offered at St. Mary's at 9:00am and 6:00pm in English, and 8:00pm in Spanish.
Now for our schedule this week...
- TUESDAY (Today)
- Adoration in the chapel from noon to 12:30.
- Community Table volunteer service from 3:30-6:00pm. Meet at CCM by 3:15 for a ride over.
- WEDNESDAY (Tomorrow)
- Ash Wednesday Liturgy of the Word with distribution of ashes at 12:30 in the chapel.
- Evening Prayer at 6:00pm in the chapel.
- Supper @ the Center at 6:30pm. Brian and Danny are making homemade pizza for us! Our program after dinner will be led by Pasquale and Mairenn. The topic is "Sacrifice." Why do we make sacrifices during Lent? How does this relate to Jesus' sacrifice for us? If you are still wondering what to sacrifice this Lent, be sure to come for some help and ideas.
- Remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence, meaning no meat, and only one full meal (up to two smaller snacks may be had, as long as they don't add up to a full meal). Liquids don't break the fast, so they are OK.
- Adoration in the chapel from noon til 12:30.
- Small Group scripture discussion from 5:30-6:30 on the 2nd floor of the UC.
- Simply Stitched meets at CCM from 8:00 to 9:30ish.
- Adoration in the chapel from 3:30-4:00pm. (We are trying out a new time this week in hopes that more will be able to participate).
- Remember every Friday during Lent is a day of abstinence, so no meat!
- Confessions/Rosary at 3:30.
- Mass at 4:00.
- Credo from 5:15-6:30. Our discussion this week will wrap up our tour of Catholic moral theology with an overview of "Sin & Grace." Come with your questions!
- NEXT MONDAY
- Cat Fair in the UC Grand Room from 5:00-7:30pm. CCM will have a table set up, so come by and say hi!
- Small Group scripture discussion in Balsam Lobby from 6:00-7:00pm.
What are you doing this Lent to make it a more prayerful time? How do you plan on getting to know Christ better, and love Him more intensely? The spiritual benefits of Lent don't just happen magically. You have to participate. If you are still unsure of how to do that, coming to our discussion Wednesday evening may help give you some ideas. Here are some other suggestions.
- You can sign up to get a Lenten reflection in your email each day. There are many services available to do that. Here is one.
- You can read a little bit of scripture each day and prayerfully reflect on it. The USCCB web site gives the readings from each day's Mass. It's a great way to get to know scripture better and to pray with the Church.
- If reflecting on scripture with others is more your thing, you can start attending one of our small groups either Monday or Thursday evenings.
- Try to come to Adoration at least once a week; if the Adoration times don't work for your schedule, come spend some quiet prayer time in the chapel on your own.
- Pray like a monk! You can start praying one of the offices of the Liturgy of the Hours, just like monks, nuns, priests, and countless lay people do each day. You can find these prayers online at DivineOffice.org or download the app to your phone or tablet.
- You can spend Lent in a tent!
- You can give up, or lessen, something you are attached to - like coffee, Facebook, or sweets. But remember to accompany your sacrifice with prayer to reap the spiritual benefits.
These are just a few ideas to help you get the most out of Lent. We pray that this will be a season of renewal and spiritual growth for all of you.