Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The season of Lent starts this Wednesday, February 14th. Ash Wednesday Masses will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart and 6 pm at St. John the Baptist. We have the rare coincidence ofAsh Wednesday and Valentine’s Day converging on the same day. Many people may see this as incongruous, as Ash Wednesday is a penitential day in the life of the Church and Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love. Nevertheless, this incongruity should remind us of the backbone of romantic love – sacrificial love or as Greeks say agape. This type of love, the gift of self for the good of another, should be the basis of all relationships, particularly the relationship of marriage, where husband and wife mutually seek the good of each other. The season of Lent is a time when we should grow in sacrificial love, desiring to love God and neighbor more. Our penances and sacrifices remind us to do this. (Catholics are asked to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and to abstain from meat on Fridays of Lent. More details, as well as exceptions, are explained elsewhere in this bulletin.) Ashes, also, remind of us of our own mortality. This in turn should lead us to put our lives more in God’s hands, our creator and Father, who desires us to live with Him in eternity.
World Day of the Sick falls on February 11th. It coincides with
World Marriage Day, which is celebrated the Sunday before Valentine’s Day. We should remember in our prayers all married couples and all of our sick brothers and sisters. Both of these days remind us of two of the Church’s sacraments – the Anointing of the Sick and Matrimony. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the sick person is united more closely to Christ, sharing in the Lord’s Passion. The sacrament strengthens the sick person against discouragement and despair as they deal with their illness. It can also provide healing for the body and the spirit. It can provide forgiveness of sins to those unable to confess their sins. It is given to Catholics who have reached the age of reason and have begun to become seriously ill, are facing surgery or even dying, although one does not have to be dying to receive the sacrament. Matrimony, of course, is that covenant in which husband and wife establish a partnership for the whole of life, ordered to each spouse’s good and the procreation and education of children. Christ infuses both sacraments with His grace and both the sick and married couples witness to God’s presence in their lives.
I pray that you all have a good week and a good Lent.
Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist