The weather last week was amazing! I hope you had the chance to enjoy it. But don’t get too excited about it. March is still ahead of us. In fact, this week will be Ash Wednesday and with Ash Wednesday we begin forty days of the Lenten Season. The Lenten Season is always a great opportunity to seek spiritual growth. We are invited to participate in the disciplines of fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving.
The discipline of fasting consists of partaking of one full meal a day and not the customary three full meals. Some food is permitted for the other two meals but it cannot be equal to a full meal. We are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday, as we begin the journey of Lent, and on Good Friday, the day of Christ’s passion.
The discipline of abstinence consists on abstaining from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and every Friday of Lent. From this Lenten discipline comes the tradition of Fish Fries, since we are allowed to eat fish instead of other kinds of meat. Fish Fries are also opportunities to practice the discipline of almsgiving. Your donations on fish fries help to financially support youth ministry at St. Patrick Church.
The Lenten Season is also the time for devotion to the Holy Cross. Every Friday we gather to pray the Stations of the Cross. This devotion helps us to deepen our understanding of Christ’s Passion. I hope that everyone will also have the opportunity to approach the Sacrament of Confession at least once during the Lenten Season. Let us begin this Lenten journey reminding ourselves of our sinful, human nature and our constant need for God’s grace of forgiveness as we mark our foreheads with ashes.
God bless you all.
Saint Patrick is a community rich with a variety of devotions which are a part of the Church’s rich heritage and tradition. Through devotions we show our love to God the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints. Devotions help us to be more docile to God’s divine law.
One devotion which is close to my heart is praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I am glad that it is also a strong devotion here at St. Patrick. Some of us feel very comfortable and have developed a habit of praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Some might not feel the same with this devotion. Sometimes it is because we do not know what to do with this time before the Blessed Sacrament. I would like to share with you some of the ways I pray before the Blessed Sacrament:
Place yourself in the presence of the Lord by kneeling and making the sign of the cross, recite an Our Father and a Hail Mary or any other prayer that you know by memory. Speak to God in your own words if you feel the need to do so. Speak to God as you would to a friend and confidant.
1. Bring your bible and pray the psalms. You will always find a psalm for praising God, for giving thanks, seeking mercy, etc. Some of you might have the book Liturgy of the Hours. That book of prayers offers us a set of psalms and scripture passages to be recited throughout the day. For those of you who have smart phones or tablets there is an app called IBreviary. I have it on my tablet and use it for reciting the psalms and prayers.
2. Choose a passage from Sacred Scripture. You will find in the church the “Let Us Celebrate” bilingual missalette. There you can choose one of the readings for the following Sunday. Pray and meditate on it. It is always a good way to prepare for Mass on Sunday.
3. Read the life of a saint and pray with him or her. Most holy men and women have had a great devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Maria Vianey, St. John Paul the Second, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta are just a few.
Read about them and pray their prayers before the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, it is important to listen to God. Sit quietly and just be in the presence of God. Think of a visit to the Blessed Sacrament as coming to see your best friend. Sit quietly and enjoy being in each other’s company. Instead of talking to the Lord, try listening to what He wants to tell you.
God bless you all!
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.