My Dear Parishioners,
As we prepare for Lent, you will find below the 2016 Lenten Regulations issued from the Office of the Bishop.
Lent this year begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10. Lent prepares the faithful to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for reflection and spiritual renewal, a time to examine one’s relationships with God and with others. The Church also calls Catholics to a spirit of penance, above all to practice the “Acts of Religion”: fasting, prayer and almsgiving, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1969 and 1434). During this Year of Mercy, the faithful are especially encouraged to take full advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and for parishes to offer ample opportunity for them to do so.
I. FASTING AND ABSTINENCE.
To foster the spirit of penance and of reparation for sin, to encourage self denial, and to guide us in the footsteps of Jesus, Church law requires the observance of fast and abstinence (CCC, nos. 1249-1253).
1. Abstinence: All persons, 14 years and older, are obliged to abstain from me on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.
2. Fasting: Everyone, from ages 18 to 59, is obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Voluntary fasting on other weekdays of Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, is highly recommended. Fasting is generally understood to mean that one full meal may be eaten. Two other small meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be eaten; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Other forms of fasting, especially from alcoholic beverages, needless television, video games, the internet and social entertainment, is of true spiritual value and is strongly encouraged. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, neither the law of fasting nor the law of abstinence obliges. If in doubt, one’s parish priest or confessor may be consulted. Airport workers, travelers, and others while on board ships or airplanes are dispensed from the laws of fast and abstinence for the duration of their journey (except on Good Friday). It is desirable that they perform some other pious act instead.
In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged to read and pray with sacred Scripture; to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church; to participate in devotions offered by the parish; and to pray more fervently - - individually, as families, and in common with others. The faithful are exhorted to pray the rosary, visit the Blessed Sacrament, pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, world peace, and for an ongoing implementation of the pastoral initiatives of the Third Diocesan Synod.
The act of giving to the poor, in the most ancient tradition of the Church, is an expression of penance, a form of piety, a witness of fraternal charity and an expression of Lenten conversion. Therefore, all Catholics are urged to support generously the charitable works of the Church, including ordinary stewardship to their parish; generous response to the 25th Annual Catholic Appeal which supports the poor and the vulnerable through Catholic Charities, education of seminarians and children in Catholic schools, and local parish social service ministries. People are also encouraged to assist the sick, the aged, the needy and the imprisoned in other ways. Fasting and abstinence together with works of charity help Catholics live in solidarity with the crucified Christ reflected in the image of our brothers and sisters who suffer.