Posted by: fvbcdm | March 4, 2014

Feast of Saint Casimir (4 March 2014)

This Tuesday is fat Tuesday, or as they say in French, Mardi Gras. So, from New Orleans, the carnival city of our country, I send to all of you greetings on this day of fun before the seriousness of Lent begins tomorrow.

Remember: Ash Wednesday is NOT a holyday of obligation. There is no obligation to attend Mass on that day, although it is, of course, the best possible way to begin the Holy Season of Lent. However, we are obliged to fast and abstain if we fall within the age limits of those upon whom the obligations of fasting and or abstinence rest. We are obliged to fast from our 21st to our 59th birthdays; that means only one full meal, with a small snack at the other two mealtimes, but no meat, and no solid food between meals. We must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent from our 14th birthday until our death, unless there are circumstances which absolve us from that obligation.

Remember, too, that down through her history of salvation, the Church has constantly recommended three means of spiritual progress, especially appropriate during Lent.  They are the generic categories of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer means any lifting of the mind and heart to God in prayer, spiritual reading, meditation, and listening to sermons and homilies. Fasting means any form of physical or mental self-denial. Giving up some favorite food or drink, smoking, watching television, using the most comfortable chair in the living room, or some other favorite practice of ours—all of those constitute “fasting.” And almsgiving is again a generic term which embraces any and every means by which we can be of assistance or service to others. Donating money to a worthy cause—charity to the poor, a good school or some other worthy institution; devoting some of our time to someone who could use it; taking a shut-in to a doctor’s appointment, shopping, or just for a pleasant ride to help him or her to enjoy a change of scenery; a letter or phone call to a shut-in or someone who is lonely and without much human attention.

Our Lord promises us in the gospel that not so much as a cup of cold water given to someone in his name will go unrewarded. Let’s bear that in mind as we use the Holy Season of Lent to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.”

May your Lent be a productive, devout, and truly Christian and Catholic time of spiritual exercise. May you start it well, be faithful to your resolutions in terms of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. And may your Easter Sunday be made more joyful by the knowledge that you really kept Lent according to the will of God and the sacred traditions of the Church.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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