Ash Wednesday, the first day of the penitential season of Lent in the Catholic Church, is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a “movable” feast that is assigned a date in the calendar only after the date of Easter Sunday is calculated. How is it calculated? I’m glad you asked.
According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and later adopted for Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby, Easter Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox falls on Monday, March 20, 2017 and the first full moon after that occurs on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Therefore, Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 16. If you want Ash Wednesday, just count backwards 46 days and you get March 1, 2017. Continue reading
There was a married couple that upon reaching retirement age, the wife announced that they were going to make some changes in their life. They were going to lose weight, get in shape, and start living right so that they could enjoy their well-earned rest with a new quality of life. In no uncertain terms she announced that her husband’s standard diet of bacon, bratwursts, and beer would be replaced by diet based on bran! He was to discover the plethora of recipes based on bran. But, besides becoming quite regular, he was making a new life. In the ensuring months and years, they lost a lot of weight, became more active in life and in the parish, and had a great quality of life. Continue reading
Our gospel highlights the three spiritual practices of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The readings all warn of not being gloomy about it all, not being ostentatious so that you’re sure to be noticed, and not to announce your generosity so that all might acknowledge your faithful giving. It calls into question not the tradition of the Lenten practices, but the meaning, intention, and purpose you assign to your practice. Continue reading
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river and then “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). Both the Gospels of Mark and Luke have a similar narrative, placing Jesus at the Jordan River immediately before his temptation in the wilderness. While Christian tradition often describes Jesus’ temptation as occurring in a “desert,” the Greek word eremos primarily means a location that is isolated, uninhabited and unfit for pasture. Continue reading
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of this penitential season in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a “movable” feast that is assigned a date in the calendar only after the date of Easter Sunday is calculated. According to the norms established by the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) and later adopted for Western Christianity at the Synod of Whitby, Easter Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This year the vernal equinox falls on Thursday, March 19, 2020 and the first full moon after that occurs on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Therefore, Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 12. If you want Ash Wednesday, just count backwards 46 days and you get February 26, 2020.
But why 46? Why not the traditional 40 days? Short answer: the six Sundays in Lent are not considered part of the official “Lenten fast” (every Sunday is a special remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ), and so if you subtract six from 46, you get the famous 40 days of Lent. And so…Lent begins on February 26, 2020.
The playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I can resist anything except temptation.” The humor of the remark is mixed with a sad recognition that we fail so often to resist the temptations that come our way each day and from every direction. Of course, there are temptations and then there are temptations writ large. What are people’s greatest temptations? Why? What are their “favorite” sins – indicated by frequency and repetition? Why do we so often find ourselves in the same position as St. Paul? “What I do, I do
not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15) Each of us is called to name our temptations as part of a moral and ethical struggle in trying to live a holy and righteous life. Then once we name that temptation, to begin to unfold and inspect, to then start to answer what it is about this temptation that becomes especially alluring. Such are the first steps to healing. Continue reading
Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday in Lent, Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. 3 The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” 4 He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” 8 Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9 and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” 10 At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.(Matthew 4:1-11) Continue reading
There is a picture in my office. It is in a place only I can see it. I didn’t plan it that way, it was just the only place to hang it when I moved in. It has been there almost thirteen years. I should probably move it, but I kind of’ like it there. I just have to glance up – and it is there. It is a picture of Jeff Pierce. Continue reading
Word gets around. Visitors or parishioners will sometimes stop me on the sidewalk in front of church and remark, “I heard you were in the Navy…” This is, of course, a prelude to reminisce, tell sea stories, recount homeports and ports-of-call, and all manner of things true and…. well, sea stories. Back in the day I was conversant in all the acronyms of naval service. If someone asked if I ever did a loop through AUTEC, I knew what they were talking about. If someone said, “Bravo Zulu,” I understood. “COMNAVSEASYSCOM” – got it… but this century has a whole lot of new acronyms that just evade my comprehension. Continue reading
From today’s first reading, we hear: “For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here, please,’ while you say to the poor one, ‘Stand there,’ or ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?” (James 2:2-4). I wonder how many church communities find themselves with such a demographic diversity or even if they might, experience the dynamic that James seems to be warning against. Continue reading