With Ash Wednesday falling earlier this week, the season of Lent has begun.
As we were reminded in the article about Lenten guidelines and practices published in our last issue, Lent is a penitential time of prayer, fasting, almsgiving and personal sacrifice meant to prepare Catholics and our fellow Christians for the sacred mysteries of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.
So, how can we do all that?
The Church, in her wisdom, offers us guidelines for performing acts of fasting and abstinence on certain days. We won’t go through the guidelines again here, but if you’d like to review them, they are available on our website, cny.org.
As we prepare to celebrate the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday, we would like to emphasize a few points for our readers to consider.
If you have been away from the Church for some time, or are irregular in your Mass attendance, Lent could be the perfect time for you to consider returning. Our parish churches have the room, and many could use the boost that more people would bring to the worshipping community.
We realize that we are “preaching to the choir,” as most Catholic New York readers are already Sunday and, in some cases, daily regulars at their parishes. A logical question then becomes: Have you asked a friend or family member who has fallen away from the regular practice of the faith to join you for Mass? What’s holding you back from reaching out? Show them this editorial if it helps you extend the invitation.
Another simple opportunity for personal faith witness to others is the program of missions now taking place in clusters of parishes across the archdiocese. Many of the three-evening missions, called Revive: Faith Every Day, will be held at parishes during Lent. A schedule of Revive missions for the next couple of weeks can be found on Page 12.
Many parishes also offer devotions such as Stations of the Cross, generally on Friday evenings, which offer a good opportunity to experience a spiritual practice in keeping with the season.
Of course, there may be no better time than Lent to experience the reflection, repentance and renewal associated with the sacrament of reconciliation by making a good confession.
Some Catholics already make this sacrament a regular practice in their lives. Sadly, most do not. Cardinal Dolan, writing in his CNY column last Lent, said only about 10 percent of Catholics rely regularly, at least once a year, on this “powerful vehicle of God’s mercy.”
We can all use the sanctifying grace that a good confession brings. “That’s how God always wants our soul to be: free from sin, radiant with His grace, innocent, like it was on the day of our christening,” the cardinal wrote.
If you want to experience that soul cleansing, we suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity for confession. During Lent, parishes in the archdiocese are encouraged to extend their hours for confession.
A good opportunity to receive the sacrament will be on Reconciliation Monday, April 10, with confessions available in the archdiocese’s churches from 3 to 9 p.m. Mark your calendar now.
Let’s all do our part to make this a prayerful Lent and a time of renewal in our parishes and in our personal and family lives.