A spiritual season
A time to face the darkness within and expose it to the light
A season to confront our demons and pray to be delivered from the power of sin and Satan
A time to wrestle honestly with failings, trusting in the merciful Love of God
A time of re-focusing, of re-entering the place of truth, of reclaiming our true identity
A number of years ago I lived in an apartment in a family home. The landlord had the habit that every Lent he would impose such a strict fast on himself that by Easter he had lost 20 – 30 pounds. I never learned whether there was some motivation for this fast other than the loss of weight but I often asked myself was he concentrating on the wrong thing. WHY? Because I continued to hear the angry arguments that shook the walls.
As we prepare for the fasting of Lent perhaps what is needed is an examination of conscience that helps us uncover the underlying weakness that is in most need of conversion. I have often used the story of my godchild Barbara to illustrate this element of the conversion that Lent is calling us to.
Barbara was my brother’s mother in law. She was raised as a Jewish person who decided that God was calling her to the Catholic Church. Toward the end of the Lent before her initiation she shared with me a struggle that she was having; namely, could she overcome her years of the Jewish faith, and hang a crucifix on the wall of her home. As she told me of her anxious feelings she finally revealed her fear. What was it you ask? She feared that her relatives would disinherit her when they came to visit if they saw a crucifix on the wall. It took a lot of questions and a lot of intense listening before the real reason was revealed but once out in the open now we could talk about the underlying cause that needed conversion.
The same is true for us. We must be able to tell the difference between Lent and the rest of the year.
In his teaching on Fast and Abstinence, Paul VI, recalling the words of Zechariah (7:5) in the Old Testament says:
"…external penitential practices are accompanied by an inner attitude of “conversion”, that is to say of condemnation of and detachment from sin and of striving toward God. One goes without food or gives away his property…even after sins have been forgiven and independently of a request for graces. One fasts or applies physical discipline to…prepare oneself for the encounter with God.
Penance therefore – already in the Old Testament – is a religious, personal act which has as its aim love and surrender to God: fasting for the sake of God, not for one’s own self. [Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, Paul VI]
In his message for Lent 2018 Pope Francis takes his cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).
He describes the false prophets of our time as ‘snake charmers’ who manipulate human emotions; and ‘charlatans’ who peddle things that have no real value, and rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. By prayer, almsgiving and fasting the Church offers us medicine to uncover the effect of these liars, reject their lies, and begin to love anew as God loves us. Click here to read the full message.
News from the Vatican
Obtaining Low Gluten Hosts
In the dioceses of the United States, there are four approved distributors of low-gluten hosts and two of mustum known to the Secretariat of Divine Worship. (See attached for contact information.)
On May 24th the FDLC will sponsor a regional workshop at Sacred Heart Major Seminary on the Misal Romano. Please save the date. More information will follow next month.
News from the USCCB
Journey to the Foot of the Cross:
Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay offers 10 things to remember for Lent.
18 Questions on the Paschal Triduum
As your parish prepares for the celebration of the Paschal Triduum these questions and answers have been prepared by the USCCB to guide you.
For Pastors and Worship Commissions
Many calls are coming to the Office for Christian Worship asking for an explanation of fasting and abstinence. Attached is a simple explanation that parishes may want to incorporate into their parish bulletin. In addition Michigan Catholic has prepared simple videos explaining these works of penance as well: Ashes, Prayer and Fasting, At the Cross.
A Liturgy Preparation Aid for Lent, the Sacred Paschal Triduum and Easter Time 2018
This aid in English and in Spanish is provided courtesy of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions and contains
Special Day of Prayer and fasting for Peace
- Rite of Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution
- Sample Penances
- Music Suggestions
- Frequently-Asked Questions
- Order for the Presentation of the Holy Oils
- A Liturgical Calendar Advisory for Lent, Triduum, and Easter 2018
- The Lectionary for Mass: Year B
- Preparation Sheets for the Sacred Paschal Triduum
With conflict continuing in many parts of the world, Pope Francis said it was time for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace and that it was appropriate for the observance to take place Feb. 23, a Friday in Lent. "Let us offer it particularly for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan," he said.
This summer the McGrath Institute for Church Life will offer three formation opportunities for liturgists, campus ministers, teachers, and other parish and diocesan leaders. The first from June 18 -25 titled: The Eucharistic Life. The second from June 25-29 titled: The Art of Eucharistic Catechesis. The third titled: Liturgical Music Ministry. See the flyer for details.
To help parishes with their future plans the liturgical calendar for the remainder of 2018 is attached.
Lent for the Elect
The Elect enter 40 days of retreat with an emphasis on prayer, purifying their intentions, deepening their conversion and a rejection of a lifestyle not consistent with the discipleship they will soon be initiated into. There is no more formal teaching. They join the rest of the community in fasting, penance and almsgiving. The Church provides special celebrations called Scrutinies for the Elect. These are scheduled to be celebrated at Mass on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. These celebrations are never combined with any other rites.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment
Team RCIA has provided the attached Checklists for the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. They are attached here in case you missed them.
Q & A
1. May an extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion give a blessing to those in the Communion Procession?
Within the context of the Mass only the priest may give a blessing. (Book of Blessings, #18; Canon 1169, #2)
NB. There has been much discussion among liturgists, theologians, and canonists about interrupting the Communion procession to give blessings to children, non- Catholics, and even Catholics not prepared to receive Holy Communion. In in private letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship, November 2008 the following observations were given.
“this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation” so “for the present, this Dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations”
The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass.
2. Can the holy water be removed from fonts during Lent?
- Lay people, within the context of the Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings are the competence of the priest.
- Laying on of hands is to be explicitly discouraged since this gesture has its own sacramental significance which is inappropriate during the Communion procession
- The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio # 84 “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
- The Church’s discipline has already made clear those non-Catholics and those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. (CDW letter (Protocol No. 930/08/L), November 22, 2008, signed by Fr. Anthony Ward, SM, Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Liturgy, USCCB, November, 2003.)
No. Here is a letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship responding to this question on 3/14/03:
Prot. N. 569/00/L
This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.
This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
- The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
- The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
Hoping that this resolves the question with every good wish and kind regard, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Mons. Mario Marini
3. May a deacon officiate at the Celebration of the Lord's Passion?
Although the Celebration of the Lord's Passion appears to be a service of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion, the Roman Missal does not permit a deacon to officiate at the celebration. Historically, even though the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day, the liturgy of Good Friday bears resemblance to a Mass. At one time it was called the “Mass of the Presanctified” (referring to the pre-consecrated hosts used at Communion, even when only the priest received Communion). This is also reflected in the prescribed vesture for the priest: stole and chasuble. The liturgy of Good Friday, as an integral part of the Triduum, is linked to the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While there may be cases where a parish with multiple churches or chapels (e.g., mission churches or a cluster of parishes under one pastor) might rotate the liturgies among the various locations, it would not be appropriate for a community to celebrate only part of the Triduum. (USCCB)
4. When should the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord's Passion take place?
Normally it should take place in the afternoon, at about 3:00 PM, to enable people to assemble more easily. However, pastoral discretion may indicate a time shortly after midday, or in the late evening, though never later than 9:00 PM. Depending on the size or nature of a parish or other community, the local Ordinary may permit the service to be repeated. (USCCB)
Fulfilled: Uncovering the Biblical Foundations of Catholicism (Part 1) is an apologetic approach to sharing the Catholic Faith using the Old Testament Tabernacle as a blueprint for God’s plan.You can watch a preview of the first session online!
Parishes around the Archdiocese are offering workshops and other experiences for adults who are interested in growing their faith. These are advertised in Parish Mail. You may request to be placed on the list of those receiving the news at aod.org/parishmail.