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Lent 2016: Christ-led, Christ-fed, Hope-filled

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Feb. 10, 2016

Our 2016 Lenten journey of faith cannot be isolated from current world events.  Dire poverty, mass migration, persecution and unrelenting violence cause such terror in the lives of millions of individuals.  Fueled by greed, anger and self-righteous intolerance, hardened hearts are breaking untold fragile lives.  Closer to home, joblessness and drug abuse lead to a sense of hopelessness and discouragement.

Pope Francis urges us not to remain indifferent or to treat as routine such affronts to human life and dignity.   Hurting people, near and far, need our care and attention. 

Can Lent this Jubilee Year of Mercy be different for you and me? 

As I probe the depth of God’s mercy and compassion for me, will I muster the Spirit’s gift of courage to reach out and accompany the hurting with the same loving concern I receive from God?

The Lenten Season provides the setting where we can avail ourselves of opportunities to grow closer to our merciful Lord. 

Daily Mass, faith formation classes, Eucharistic adoration, the Stations of the Cross, fasting, and celebration of the Sacrament of Penance are graced means to encounter Jesus, to experience His merciful love, and to deepen our love for Him.

As the Holy Father teaches, “what the Church tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy…remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit:  by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them.  On such things,” Pope Francis writes, “will we be judged.” 

While, perhaps, most of us are not able to offer personally these works of mercy to those suffering terrible afflictions across the globe, we can, we must be attentive to the hurting in our neighborhoods.

Many of our parish families have a long history of social outreach to the hurting. Organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, to name just a few, along with local Church and community groups are engaged in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  This Lent can be the occasion where I consider my own participation in such works in my own neighborhood.

I pray that through the graces and spiritual strength we receive from our participation at Eucharist and other Lenten devotional practices, God’s mercy can clear our vision to see the hurting in our midst and transform our hearts to respond with tenderness and compassion to their needs.  Let us pray for one another. 


Lenten regulations for 2016

February 10 is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Season of Lent.

All Catholics who have reached their 14th birthday are bound to abstain totally from meat on the following days:  Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent, & Good Friday.

All Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are bound also to observe the Law of Fast on the following days:  Ash Wednesday (February 10) and Good Friday (March 25).  Fasting, that is, eating less, involves limiting oneself to a single full meal and avoiding food between meals.  Lighter nourishment may be taken on two other occasions in the course of the day.

Prayer & penance
The entire season of Lent should be observed in a spirit of prayer and penance. Spending extra time in prayer or Bible study, attending daily Mass, voluntary sacrifice and self-denial, combined with works of charity and service to others, are all excellent ways to obey the Lord's command to reform our lives and to prepare for the joyful celebration of Easter. 

Parishes are highly encouraged to offer periods of Eucharistic Adoration during the Lenten Season, as well as, the traditional devotions of the Stations of the Cross and the recitation of the Rosary.  In addition, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is asking the Catholic faithful to turn their attention to and live out in an even fuller way this Lent the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Sacrament of Penance
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has asked all Diocesan churches to highlight the Sacrament of Penance.  In particular, the Holy Father is asking all bishops and priests to dedicate the 24-hour period of March 4 & 5 as “24 Hours for the Lord” with a world-wide celebration of the Sacrament of Penance accompanied by

Eucharistic Adoration in all parishes.  Parish priests are asked to plan their schedules accordingly to observe this request of the Pope.  In addition, parishes might want to adopt the model of dedicating one Lenten evening each week to providing occasion for the Sacrament of Penance, as suggested in previous years.

Easter duty
All Catholics who have reached the age of reason must confess their serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.  They must also receive Holy Communion at least once each year during the Easter season, which this year extends from February 14th, the First Sunday of Lent, until Trinity Sunday, May 22nd.

Although other seasons are more suitable, the celebration of marriage and the Nuptial Mass are not forbidden during Lent, according to The Code of Canon Law.  When liturgical rules permit, the Ritual Mass for the Celebration of Marriage may be used and the nuptial blessing may be given.  However, you should advise the spouses and their guests to exercise proper restraint in accord with the penitential character of Lent.

All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law to do penance.  The days set aside for fast and abstinence in Lent are special ways of doing penance and are an expression of unity for all the Church.

Chrism Mass
A reminder that this year’s Chrism Mass will be celebrated on March 17 at 11 am at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.  Details pertaining to this event will be forthcoming.

Funerals during
the Sacred Triduum
On Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, Funeral Masses may not be celebrated.  However, a Funeral Service consisting of the Liturgy of the Word and the Final Commendation may be held in Church.

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