Bulletin Letter – 2/11/24

February 10-11, 2024

Dear parishioners,

With Ash Wednesday already upon us this week, kindly be reminded of our Mass schedule for that day: 9:15am school Mass in Payne, 12:00pm Mass in Paulding, and 7:00pm Mass in Payne.  

Every year, I receive questions during Lent pertaining to fasting and abstaining from meat.  These are technically two distinct but related practices.  Fasting involves eating minimally throughout the day, while abstaining simply entails forgoing meat.  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics.  The norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 through age 59.  When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.  The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon Catholics from age 14 onwards.

Please note that although one is not obliged to fast once he turns 60 years old, fasting is still encouraged for those over 60 if their health permits them.  Of course, many people 60 or older experience health problems or complications that legitimately make it impossible for them to fast.  In this case, one should still try to do something penitential on fasting days, insofar as one is able, keeping in mind the deeper purpose of fasting, which is to make reparation for our sins.

To help us enter into the Lenten season, we might consider Pope Benedict XVI’s explanation of it in his 2006 homily for Ash Wednesday:

A new heart and a new spirit: we ask for this with the penitential Psalm par excellence, the Miserere, which we sing today with the response, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned” (Roman Missal).

The true believer, aware of being a sinner, aspires with his whole self – spirit, heart and body – to divine forgiveness, as to a new creation that can restore joy and hope to him (cf. Ps 51[50]: 3, 5, 12, 14).

Another aspect of Lenten spirituality is what we could describe as “combative”, as emerges in today’s “Collect”, where the “weapons” of penance and the “battle” against evil are mentioned.

Every day, but particularly in Lent, Christians must face a struggle, like the one that Christ underwent in the desert of Judea, where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil, and then in Gethsemane, when he rejected the most severe temptation, accepting the Father’s will to the very end.

It is a spiritual battle waged against sin and finally, against Satan. It is a struggle that involves the whole of the person and demands attentive and constant watchfulness.

[…] Lent reminds us, therefore, that Christian life is a never-ending combat in which the “weapons” of prayer, fasting and penance are used. Fighting against evil, against every form of selfishness and hate, and dying to oneself to live in God is the ascetic journey that every disciple of Jesus is called to make with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance.

Following in his footsteps and united to him, we must all strive to oppose evil with good, falsehood with truth and hatred with love.

Know of my prayers for a grace-filled Lent!

Fr. Ammanniti