The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. Please be sure to check out the Ash Wednesday schedule elsewhere in this bulletin. Lent, of course, is marked by the three traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. All of us are encouraged to observe these disciplines in some way in our own lives. Communally, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence from meat, and all Fridays of Lent are observed as days of abstinence. Guidelines for these practices are also elsewhere in the bulletin. Depending upon the date of Easter, we usually have a couple of Solemnities fall during Lent: St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th) and the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 25th). A Solemnity is the highest rank of a liturgical day and, traditionally, no fasting is permitted (according to the ancient practice of the Church). In fact, if one of these Solemnities were to fall on a Friday during Lent, we would not have to abstain from meat.
With respect to the discipline of prayer, I would encourage everyone, in advance of Lent, to plan some time each day to spend with Jesus in prayer. This is so important in our busy lives. Just a little bit of time in prayer can make such a difference in our day. In any relationship, we truly only get to know the “other” by spending time and conversing with him or her. Prayer is all about our relationship with God. It is not first and foremost asking for things but a being with and acknowledging that God is with us, at every moment of every day. Lent is the perfect time to renew and re-focus on that relationship.