Ash Wednesday begins Lenten journey

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” are the words one hears when ashes are formed in the sign of the cross and imposed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday.

Ashes in the sign of the cross marked the foreheads of Catholics across the Diocese and the world on Ash Wednesday, beginning the journey of 40 days to Easter, to the heart of the Liturgical Year and of the Faith.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at St. William Parish in Naples and later at the Catholic Center in Venice.

“You are starting your Lenten journey in a spiritual way,” Bishop Dewane said to those at Mass. “That is a good place to begin. But take this opportunity to hear the call of Christ in the Lenten Season. We are all called to do these things – pray-fast-give alms – and to live out through this 40 days; not with great fanfare for all to notice, but within your heart. That is how you can grow closer to the Lord.”

Pope Francis offered suggestions on how to create time to make room for the Word of God.

“It’s the time to turn off the television and to open the Bible,” Pope Francis said. “Lent is a desert, it’s the time to give up, to tear ourselves away from our mobile phone and connect ourselves to the Gospel. It’s the time to give up useless words, slander, rumors and gossip, and to speak and give oneself to the Lord. It’s the time to dedicate oneself to a healthy ecology of the heart, to clean it.”

As Lent continues, it is important to reflect upon the profound mystery of Ash Wednesday and use it as a starting point to grow closer to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The faithful are also encouraged to confess their sins during the Lenten Season. To facilitate this requirement, all Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present so that the faithful will find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Confession from 4-8 p.m., Friday, April 3, and 9 a.m.-noon, April 4. Please check with your local parish for additional reconciliation times.

Lenten journey begins Feb. 26

“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.”

These words from Pope Francis should resonate with all Catholics and serve to remind us that the coming Liturgical Season has great significance and meaning.

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practice self-control through fasting.

Lent lasts for 40 days – excluding Sundays – from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26) to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, which this year falls on April 9. It is a reminder of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert, and of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert.

This penitential season of fasting, alms-giving, and special prayer is like a spiritual cleansing and renewal to draw closer to God.

The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization, said Lent is the ideal time to focus on becoming “A Disciple of Christ.”

“Discipleship is truly following the Lord,” Mazrin explained. “For Lent Jesus gives us an example by first going to the desert to fast and pray.” Christ teaches us:

  • To fast in order to grow in physical discipline. Fast intentionally – not just because it’s an old written down tradition, but in order to grow in mastery over your flesh and your passions;
  • To give alms in order to have detachment. We don’t give alms just because it’s nice. We give alms to help those in need as well as to not have an inordinate attachment to physical possessions;
  • To pray. We pray to grow in our relationship with God and as an act of humility. Humility helps us imitate Christ and a great example of humility is Mary.

Mazrin went on to explain that there are some practical things one can do to be “A Disciple of Christ” during Lent.

“Give up something specific for Lent not just to give something up, but something that will challenge you to grow in an area that will be beneficial to you and your relationship with God;” he continued. “Pray more intentionally. Meditate on purpose.  Pray the rosary, go to Mass an extra time during the week, pick up your bible and actually try to go deeper in it! Give alms, volunteer your time, try to see things from the perspective of someone less fortunate than yourself.”

During Lent, it is common to participate in a retreat or the Stations of the Cross, allowing the opportunity for one to refocus on the Lord in different ways. Check with your local Parish for these and other Lenten activities.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to the Faithful. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, April 3, and 9 a.m.to noon, Saturday, April 4. Additional times for the Sacrament are also offered so that the Faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s mercy. Parishes also combine to have an evening prayer service with many priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Again, check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.

During Lent, a group of catechumens and candidates will be coming into the full communion with the Church. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will preside over the Rite of Election, at 2:30 p.m., on the first Sunday of Lent, March 1, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect. This year, 112 catechumens will be joined by an additional 185 candidates who will also participate in the formal ceremony and be recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

Dates of note

In addition to Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, where one can receive ashes, there are several other key dates of note on the Liturgical Calendar.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19, Bishop Dewane will be celebrating 8 a.m., Mass at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Ave. W., Bradenton, and then 12:30 p.m. Mass in Italian at Epiphany Cathedral, 3350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass in Venice is at the invitation of the Italian-American Club and will include a traditional blessing of the bread and procession.

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, many Parishes add additional Mass to accommodate this day. The day also marks the start of the annual Novena for Mass for Life, a special opportunity to meditate on the progressive development of Our Lord in His mother’s womb.  The hope is that this meditation will help people to reflect on the sanctity of all human life, from fertilization/conception to birth and throughout life until natural death, regardless of age or condition.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, April 5, is the day the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. The commemoration with the blessing of the palms and procession, is a ritual action that marks our own entry into Holy Week.

During Holy Week is the annual Chrism Mass, 10:30 a.m., April 7, at Epiphany Cathedral. The Chrism Mass is the largest gathering of priests in the Diocese and a time when they join Bishop Dewane in a celebration of the unity of the priesthood and when the holy oils used in the Sacraments are blessed and consecrated.

For more information about Lent and related activities taking place in the Diocese, or at local Parishes, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, and Good Friday, April 10, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is to continue until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” is to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday.

Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.

Ash Wednesday marks beginning of Lenten Journey

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” are the words one hears when ashes are formed in the sign of the cross and imposed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday.

The ashes come from the blessed Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year and the moment serves as a launching point for one’s Lenten Journey of praying, of fasting, of almsgiving – sacrifice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane stressed during a Mass at St. William Parish in Naples, that on this journey of salvation, as one moves forward, one is called to discipline oneself to be the ever more for the Lord. A key component of this is to renew one’s heart, the Bishop added.

While attending Mass on Ash Wednesday is a good start, Bishop Dewane said that it is very easy to get too busy with the motions of the Lenten Season and miss the motivation.

“Why is it we are here? What is it we do? Why do we do it?” the Bishop asked. “It is in our heart, as human beings, where that love and motivation can most profoundly occur. Go forward – as you are starting out well – but look at the motivation. If one needs to make more connections with the Lord, do so. Be very mindful in expressing to the Lord, clearly in one’s prayer, what it is that motivates you and also seek the help one needs from the Lord.

The ashes were used as a sign of repentance in the Old Testament, and to serve as a public sign of our intent to die to our worldly desires and live in Christ. Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief for our sins.

Pope Francis said on Ash Wednesday that fasting from food or other things during Lent is a chance for Catholics to reorient their material attachments, and the Holy Father urged people to slow down and turn to Christ during the penitential season.

The Pope added that the three area of focuses during Lent serve as an invitation from the Lord. “Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbor; fasting, to ourselves.”

Lenten Season focuses on prayer, fasting and almsgiving

By Joshua Mazrin – Florida Catholic

2/21/19

As the Liturgical Calendar and all of creation turn its eyes toward the Passion of Jesus Christ this Lent and the following Resurrection, how ought we to give the proper response to the love of God?  The common practices of Lent include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization.

These practices begin with a day of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, March 6, abstaining from meat each Friday, and another day of fasting and abstinence on April 19, which is Good Friday.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, Eve sees a threefold description of the fruit, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise” (Gen 3:6).  St. John explains this threefold distinction in his first epistle, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

Basically, what this means is that we primarily struggle in three ways: 1) the lust of the flesh is when we give into bodily temptations which may be gluttony, sloth, or lust for example, 2) the lust of the eyes pertains to wanting possessions or money, and 3) the pride of life is pride and vanity, wanting our own importance and glory rather than God’s.

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are set up directly to combat those dispositions in our lives.  Prayer gives us humility rather than pride, relying on God rather than ourselves.  Fasting is denying the body and the lusts of the flesh in order to grow in discipline and gain mastery over the body.  Almsgiving brings about detachment to material goods so that we might rule them rather than us being ruled by the cares of the world, it also helps us to become generous people!

Lent is a season to focus on these in light of Jesus’ ministry, self-denial, and Passion that we might grow in conformity to Christ and His divine life.  It is a season to truly grow in charity, which covers a multitude of sin and is the true measure of holiness.  Growth in holiness is truly the perfection of charity (the perfection of ourselves in love of God and neighbor).  As we progress along this path of sanctity, our lives become more perfectly united to that of Christ’s on the Cross, so that in dying with Him in death, we might rise with Him in life, including the growth and possible perfection of virtue and great union with God even on earth!

This Lenten Season, be encouraged to do more than you have ever done because you are given a unique opportunity to receive grace from God that you will never have the opportunity to receive again. Expect to receive abundant blessings this Lenten season!  Remember the scandal of the Cross and the foolishness of God’s love for us, He desires to pour more and more grace into your heart and to love you in exactly the way you need.  He offers healing, love, and mercy if only you would provide the open door of your heart and cooperate with His grace.

The Office of Evangelization is also offering many opportunities to encounter the love of God in your daily lives this Lent. There are daily reflections and prayerful resources on the Diocesan website under the new section “Liturgical Calendar” with a dedicated webpage to Lent. There will also be Diocesan “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese at different Parishes you can find on the website. These nights will include Eucharistic Adoration, praise & worship, a short reflection, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)—where we all might draw from the spring of eternal life and be transformed by the scandalous love of God.

LENTEN REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, and Good Friday, April 19, 2019, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “Paschal Fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (and Good Friday) are days of abstinence.

Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition. 

Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for baptism or of renewal of baptism at Easter.

 

Lent 2019 – Mercy Nights

The Office of Evangelization is hosting several “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese during Lent. Mercy Nights are designed to give the faithful the opportunity to encounter God particularly through His unfathomable mercy. Each night will have Eucharistic Adoration, lively praise and worship music, a short reflection, and the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Make your Lent a time to truly encounter what the Lord has in store for you in prayer, come to Mercy Night! For more information, contact evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org (see a list below for the dates, locations and musicians).

All are welcome to the Mercy Nights, which begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. There is no cost to attend.

  • March 13, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, music by Jon Niven;
  • March 20, Incarnation Parish, 2901 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, music by Out of Darkness;
  • March 27, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th, Cape Coral, music by Jon Niven;
  • April 5, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N., Naples, (starts at 6:30 p.m.) music by Jennine Fuentes “Encounter on the Mountain;”
  • April 9, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, music by Nathan Boock;
  • April 17, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, music by Jon Nevin.

For more information, please call 941-484-9543 or email evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org.

Web Lenten resources

Be sure to check out https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/liturgical-seasons/, especially the “Lent” section for daily Lenten resources such as reflections, prayer, devotions, and teachings.

Joshua Mazrin is the Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization and can be reach at 941-484-9543 or at mazrin@dioceseofvenice.org.

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