Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
LENT. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the season that calls us to meditate on and experience the munificent and immense love of God that would lead Him to die on the Cross for our sins. At the same time, it is also a time to consider our sins—how we have failed to love him—and to work to overcome them, through our diligent efforts and His grace.
Ashes will be distributed at all 4 Masses on Ash Wednesday: 6:30am, 8am, 12noon and 7pm. Since ashes are not a sacrament, they may be received by anyone who wishes to repent their sins—Catholic or not, in “good standing” or not. (Note: There are no confessions scheduled on Ash Wednesday.)
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fasting and abstinence, and every Friday in Lent is a day of abstinence. Failure to “substantially” keep these penances is grave matter (e.g., potentially a mortal sin). The law of abstinence requires that no meat may be eaten on these days, and binds all Catholics who are 14 years old or older. No other penance may be substituted. The law of fasting binds those who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The Church defines “fasting,” for these purposes, as having only one full meal a day, with two additional smaller meals permitted, but only as necessary to keep up strength and so small that if added together they would not equal a full meal. Snacking is forbidden, but that does not include drinks that are not of the nature of a meal. Special circumstances can mitigate the application of these rules, i.e., the sick, pregnant or nursing mothers, etc.
Lent, of course, brings a much busier parish schedule, which we’ve laid out in detail in this week’s insert: please keep it in a central place to remind you of the many opportunities for spiritual growth the parish offers this Lent. Please note especially that we will be adding confessions every weekday evening (see the insert for details).
LENTEN SERIES. I am delighted to announce that this year’s Lenten Series will be given by Fr. Paul deLadurantaye, every Wednesday evening during Lent, beginning February 25th. His topic will be the virtues: “Habits of the Mind and Heart: A Virtuous Journey in Lent.” Father holds a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, and is Secretary for Religious Education and the Sacred Liturgy for the Diocese. He is a brilliant theologian—he’s been the “Bishop’s theologian” for over twenty years. He is also an amazing teacher, “the teachers’ teacher”: as Assistant Professor of Theology, Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College he’s probably taught most of the DREs and catechists of the Diocese, including our own Bob and Bev Ward (and Fr. Nguyen). I am very excited to bring him here for this series on the Virtues and I highly encourage all of you to join us—and bring a friend!
SCOUT SUNDAY. Today, Sunday, we will remember “Scout Sunday” at the 10:30 Mass, honoring all those involved in scouting in our parish (American Heritage Girls, Trail Life, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts or Venture) etc.. I am happy to recognize all the good work they do with these organizations, and we encourage them to take Christ into these organizations, to proclaim the truth and joy of the Gospel to all their friends.
“THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST”: THE MOVIE. Next Sunday, February 22, at 3pm, we will be sponsoring a private showing for our parishioners of Mel Gibson’s epic movie at Kingstowne Regal Cinemas (Alexandria). Beyond a doubt, this is the most moving portrayal of the suffering of Jesus ever made. Many of you have seen this movie on cable, but to see it on the BIG SCREEN is a completely different experience. If you saw it when it first came out 11 years ago—it’s time to see it again. I really can’t think of a better way to begin Lent than viewing this movie that brings home so realistically the terrible suffering Our Lord endured for our sins. And though the movie is violent (it is rated R, and I strongly recommend parental discretion), so was the first Good Friday. In the end, it is a powerful movie about the most profound act of love in history: let the love of Christ overwhelm you—please join us.
Tickets must be purchased in advance, there will be no ticket sales at the theater. Tickets are $5, with a discount rate for families, but we have a very liberal free tickets policy. They are available in the Parish Office and after all Masses this weekend, and on our parish website.
CRUSADES AND INQUISITIONS. Recently, when talking about Islamist terrorists, President Obama said: “…remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ…” Why did he have to go and say that?
First: it is ridiculous to compare today’s Christians to today’s Islamist barbarian armies, especially by using the Crusades and Inquisition. Laying aside the fact that the Crusades were a response to 400 years of Muslim invasions and atrocities against Christians, they ended 700 years ago, and the Inquisition ended 400 years ago. What does that have to do with us, or with ISIS?
But, even if we do go back 4 or 7 centuries, to the extent some tried to use Christ’s name to justify “terrible deeds” that were actually done, they did not and could not cite one word from the New Testament to justify them. But ISIS and their ilk can and does cite dozens of verses, from the Quran and other Islamic holy books to justify their contempt for human life.
Besides, Christians radically condemned those “terrible deeds” long ago, so that virtually all Christians today are ashamed of them. But a 2013 Pew Poll tells us at least 13% of Muslims around the world—200 million Muslims—support Al Qaeda’s tactics, and another 30% refuse to condemn them.
And Christians reject those “terrible deeds” because they directly contradict the specific example and teaching of Jesus Christ. And Muslims struggle to reject the terrible deeds of the present because they directly reflect the specific example and teaching of Muhammad who personally took up a sword to threaten and kill opponents.
It is true that individual Christians and Muslims are capable of terrible sins, and sometimes try to claim justification in their religion. But thereby to imply or infer a moral equivalency between Christianity and Islam is another thing—a gross and utter falsehood.
There are many Muslims who do not embrace the violence Muhammad did and preached. But Christians must never be confused about the righteousness of our faith, or think that all religions are equally good and true. Rather, we must follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the God who is love, and not be misled by every false prophet who appeals to our sinful weaknesses.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles