Ash Wednesday and Sundays in Lent

lent-2-heartlargeAsh 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

Making Room

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

Swallowed up in Victory

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

40 Days of Lent?

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.

Ash Wednesday – thoughts

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

Remembering rightly

Traditions can be big or small, important and not. Not all traditions are created equal. If each one of us are to be a person faithful to Gods’ eternal covenant in Christ; if we are to be a church faithful to that covenant, then we must be a people who remember rightly and hold onto the Traditions that go to the heart of faith, the heart of the covenant. Continue reading

Lenten practices

1 “(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you…. 16 “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you. Continue reading

Examine and Examen

It has been a busy start to the year with lots of parish activities, lots of ministries, and… well… just lots of life. It is hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is this week marking the beginning of a penitential season for the faithful. I find that most of us have lost the core idea of “penance.”  Most will answer that “penance” is the prayers and actions that the priest gives you at the end of the Sacrament of Confession. And indeed, that is true. But that is really just the “period at the end of a sentence.” The older, deeper meaning of penance might be better described as the period “at the end of chapter” in the story of one’s life. Continue reading