Easter Sunday is late this year, not till April 16th and therefore Ash Wednesday is still over a month away, March 1st. Yet this might be a good time to give advance warning, so to speak, so that we have the opportune time to consider how we as a parish, and as individuals, should celebrate this most important time of the Church's liturgical Year.
Our liturgical year, which is our celebration of the mysteries of the life of Christ, begins with Advent which is our waiting for the Lord and then the celebration of his birth and presence among us celebrated in the feast of Christmas.
After a short break, which the Church calls Ordinary Time when green is the liturgical colour, we begin with Lent. Though the word itself derives from the old English word for "lengthen", the days getting longer, it has a more profound meaning for all Christians. It is the time of prayer, penance and charitable giving by which we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord in the Triduum of our Holy Week (Maundy Thur, Good Fri, Holy Sat) and then Easter.
Now is the time, well before Lent, to decide how we will use the six weeks of Lent to prepare for Easter. There is of course the Sunday Masses, but we are looking to do something extra!
As a parish we have daily Mass, and the Church's Morning Prayer on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There is Marian devotions on Thursday evening and an hour of watching before the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday morning. Most importantly we should approach the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession on Saturday mornings), and then there are Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. I hope during Lent to have a series of reflections on six selected saints of the Church given on DVD by Bishop Robert Barron who gives an excellent presentation, with a similar presentation of "Life in the Spirit" given by our Prayer Group during the Easter Season. Last but not least there is almsgiving, our generosity to those in greater need.
Please give careful thought to how you will prepare for this Easter. Fr Jerome.