Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday, February 26. As a reminder, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence for all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59. Fasting means you may have one full meal and two smaller meals that together don’t add up to a full meal, and abstinence means refraining from eating meat. All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence.
Ashes will be distributed at all Masses. We will have two 6pm Masses, one at the church, and one at Holy Cross Academy. The Mass schedule is as follows:
6:30am English at St Mary
9am English at St Mary
12pm English at St Mary
4pm Latin at St Mary
6pm English at St Mary at St Mary
6pm English at Holy Cross Academy (250 Stafford Lakes Parkway, Fredericksburg VA 22406)
8pm Bilingual at St Mary
Please note there will not be 6:30pm Confessions this Wednesday. 12:30pm Confessions will continue as usual.
This week, I am preaching most of the Masses about the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. This important annual appeal assists our diocese in paying for a variety of services provided by Catholic Charities and supports seminarian education, youth ministry and many ministries described in the bulletin insert included two weeks ago. Thank you to your fellow parishioners who spoke after each of those Masses.
I don’t know any pastor who “enjoys” making this annual appeal, but it is also something that I am proud of – our willingness to support the diocese. We give, as an expression of gratitude to Jesus for his abundant blessings. Thanksgiving is the right response of a grateful heart. Thank you for your attention to the Lenten Appeal, and your consistent generosity.
Ash Wednesday, a reminder that this year we are adding two Masses to try to alleviate the crushing crowds that attend the evening Masses! There will be a Mass in Latin at 4pm in the church, and an additional Mass at 6pm at our parish school, Holy Cross Academy! These are in addition to all of the Masses that we previously had, and a bilingual Mass will also be at 8pm to allow for less congestion in the parking lot. Please check the full schedule in the bulletin.
pax et bonum,
I was listening to a ‘secular’ podcast yesterday and have been chewing on this quote, “It is easy to fall in love with an idea.” They went on to discuss how it’s not so easy to love something real.
The problem is that “ideas” can often involve a great deal of fantasy on our part and when the fantasy collides with reality, then we can be left disappointed and disillusioned. Does your idea of the perfect spouse allow for their humanity, weakness, and their preferences which may not be your own? Real Love is challenging, because it means generously giving ourselves away.
I have mentioned the annual Married Couples retreat in this space, and invite you to come away and pray with your spouse. Together you can more deeply encounter our Lord and each other.
Moreover, do you love Jesus, or the idea of Jesus? Our idea of Jesus must conform to who He is. A mature growth in loving Jesus means learning where our idea of Him is in error, and coming to love Him as He is. When the faith challenges your behavior or bias or understanding, then this is Jesus trying to move your love to a more perfect state. Will you really love Him? Then get to know Him. Lent is coming and is a beautiful time to strip away some of our distractions to better see and love Jesus.
pax et bonum,
Is your car a mess? Or your office? Or your Inbox? My car is actually pretty clean inside, while the outside is a little salty this winter. But I know lots of folks struggle with keeping a car interior clean, especially if they have children! I remember years ago my nephew being very concerned because he got chocolate all over the seats in my car. I laughed and said, “That is the price of being an uncle, sometimes the chocolate is all over.”
But my office? That is another story! Yikes, stacks of paper, all representing work or marriage prep or annulments or meeting requests or sales pitches and on and on.
And email inboxes? How many people just give up on trying to empty them out? My dad recently asked for help clearing out the 27,000 emails out of his inbox. We just made him a new gmail.com account instead.
Ok… but what possible ‘Jesus connection’ am I thinking? When you clean out your car/office/inbox, you suddenly become much more aware of previously unnoticed threats to re-cluttering your life. A candy wrapper in the car, an unreturned message on the desk, or email spam coming in. The same thing can happen with our souls, especially if we haven’t been to confession in ages. It is such an amazing experience as a priest, to help people to clear out their souls of the debris and clutter of sin. Truly, as a priest, I rank it a privilege second only to transubstantiating bread and wine into Jesus.
Once we clear out the debris that was intimidating us from returning to Jesus, we become much more sensitive to maintaining the spiritual health and cleanliness of our souls. I often tell folks who return from many years away from the sacrament, “Don’t be surprised if you start to remember and recall smaller sins. Just bring them confidently to your next confession. Jesus will always welcome you home.”