We celebrated a prayeful mass on Ash Wednesay with parishioners and our school children along with imposition of ashes. The 4 PM liturgy and the 7 PM liturgy for Imposition of Ashes were also well attended.
Just a reminder that there are daily masses in the chapel at 9 AM, daily exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesday, Confessions and Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings. Morning Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) has been incorporated into daily mass for the duration of Lent and Holy Week. Our adult faith enrichment series continues on Wednesday nights with a discussion of Church history from Comby.
The chapel looks dignified and prayerful with its Lenten themed liturgical environment.
Let us pray, fast, give alms.
Responses to our Lenten penance survey were still trickling in until a couple of days ago, so I thought I would finally close the poll and publish a summary of results. Eighty-eight responses were collected.
Soda was the most frequently mentioned item to "give up" not listed on the survey choices. Gossiping and complaining were occasionally mentioned as well.
It will be interesting to see if the trend toward observing routine abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year makes any significant comeback among Catholics in the United States.
I read the online news report that a marine lance corporal was acquitted by a court martial of responsibility for the eventual suicide of a fellow marine who killed himself as a result of alleged hazing and humiliation imposed by the acquitted lance corporal. Defense attorneys argued that the physical labor and calisthenics ordered by his client, were neither excessive nor exhausting and are permitted as a disciplinary measure in marine combat zones. They note that the physical drills were imposed as a penalty for the fourth time the deceased marine had fallen asleep on duty watch, which placed his fellow marines in mortal peril. In describing the discipline meted out by the acquitted marine, the defense attorney said: "We don't let Marines slack because we care about each other."
Strangely enough, he echoed the words of Pope Benedict’s Lenten message: Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). In discussing the Christian virtue of charity, the pope calls for the use of “fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation.” Modern Christians think an “act of charity” is almost always a donation of material goods or time. The pope reminds us that there is a rich Church tradition of “admonishing sinners” as one of the spiritual works of mercy. Too often, the pope complains, Christians become conformed to the thinking of the world, rather than confronting evil and helping to transform the world in Christ.
I’m not suggesting that Church penance should include digging trenches, or performing leg-lifts with sandbags. But we must correct the impression that spiritual tepidity is the norm for the modern age, that anything we vote for is permitted, or that moral truth changes if a majority, even a vocal minority, refuse to listen. Which is more difficult: digging a trench or speaking up against evil?
In his message for Lent 2012, Pope Benedict XVI warned that our hearts "can be hardened by a kind of spiritual anesthesia which numbs us to the suffering of others."
Charity suffers much at the hands of the indifferent. The pope has captured a truly human description of what can happen to our sense of compassion, our ability to have empathy for another. Such a sense can become numbed, hard to rouse, insensitive to the pain of others. The seemingly never-ending stream of images of human suffering beamed to our televisions and computer screens, even to handheld devices can give us compassion-fatigue.
The pope also blames the possession of material wealth, which can lead to a false sense of self-sufficiency, along with our all too human tendency to put our own problems and concerns above all else.
Even though it may be uncomfortable to waken our compassion, let us pray for the resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts to be moved by the plight of others and through acts of charity to alleviate physical and spiritual poverty.
What are you doing and what are your giving up for Lent?
Though the practice of "giving up" something for Lent came to be looked upon with some derision after Vatican II for its "negativity," the practice of doing something "positive" for Lent probably never took as firm a hold on the Catholic imagination. It strikes me a little like the now abolished mandatory abstinence from meat on Friday which was to have been replaced by something else of a penitential nature. Really?
Positive, negative, giving up, doing…the age old trinity of fasting, prayer, giving alms never truly went out of style and is still the proper attitude for Lent.
What are your Lenten plans and practices? Let us and others know by taking our recent survey. We'll also be posting a few great books for Lenten reading – both classics and by contemporary writers.
Lenten Practices Survey
The ashes imposed on our foreheads during liturgies on Ash Wednesday retrace the sign of the cross our parents and godparents made on our forehead the day of our baptism, and the sign the priest or deacon made with the sacred chrism immediately after the baptismal water washed us into God’s family. If we have been confirmed, the bishop or his delegate also anointed our foreheads with sacred chrism.
The grimy residue of a cross on our head reminds us midweek that we have been claimed for Christ by our baptism. It also helps us prepare for the joyful celebration of Easter by initiating a period of penance and fasting. Ashes have been used for penance and sorrow for sins since the days of the Old Testament and have been incorporated into Ash Wednesday ceremonies in the Catholic Church since the first millennium.
Yesterday's scheduled palm burning with the students of Holy Cross School was rained out. Wah, waah.
Lent is coming rain or shine!
Last evening's diocesan celebration of the Chrism mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Trenton with Bishop O'Connell was a spirit-filled beginning to the grace-filled period of Holy Week. Many priests of the diocese gathered along with the bishop to bless the sacred oils that will be used in sacramental anointings at all the parishes in the diocese during the coming year. Our own RCIA team was selected to bear the Oil of the Catechumens to the sanctuary for blessing. It is tradition for the priests to renew their promises of priestly commitment at the Chrism mass each year. The presence of so many faithful from parishes all over the dioceses made the occasional even more poignant.
Bishop O'Connell preached to the largest number of priests in recent years and exhorted them to be bearers of the Truth to a world which sometimes doesn't want to hear it. While noting the tragedy of those priests who have wounded the church, he celebrated the goodness of the priesthood and of faithful priests, emphasizing their sacramental roles in persona Christi throughout the diocese.
This Wednesday, there will be mass at 9 AM as usual, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day until Evening prayer and Benediction at 5 PM. Traditional Latin Mass will be prayed at noon as usual. Confessions will be heard in the church from 6 PM to 7 PM.
There will be no Faith Seeking Understanding meeting this Wednesday, but sessions will resume sometime after Easter with a bible study on the Book of Revelation. More details to follow.
Well, the rain did hold off! Just as we reached the church's parking lot, the sun broke through the clouds and we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny Palm Sunday. The sky in these photos even tell the story!
Thanks to all who braved the initial cold and helped us mark the solemn beginning of Holy Week.
The earliest arrivals at the public parking lot in Seabright
The holy water was blowing everywhere!
The procession speed never reached 30 mph, but the winds might have!
Our intrepid group leaves Seabright for the walk across the bridge.
It's always exciting to cross the bridge into Rumson on foot.
Home Sweet Home and Just In Time for the 10:30 AM mass!
It's supposed to clear up, or at least stop raining by the time of tomorrow's Mass, so if it's not actually raining, we'll see you at Seabright in the public parking lot at 10 AM on Palm Sunday!