This Wednesday, February 10th begins the holy season of Lent...a 40 day journey for faithful Christians to draw themselves closer to the mysteries of our salvation through prayer, penance and alms giving. While many look at Lent as a time of spiritual endurance (can I "give up" something for 40 days only to go back to it), we are called to plunge deeper into our souls and, with the help of God's grace, to uproot from our lives those things that are seperating us from the Kingdom of God and plant those things that will strengthen us in our journey. Take advantage of this holy season by not only "giving up" something but also by adding something that will be enduring: prayer, spiritual reading, acts of charity and service. Engage the season at every opportunity!
GENERAL DISCIPLINES OF LENT
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
- For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
- If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
Ash Wednesday Masses will be offered at the following times:
- 0900 St. Nicholas Church
- 1130 Eielson AFB Chapel
- 1700 Eielson AFB Chapel
- 1900 St. Nicholas Church
Please note that the distribution of ashes will only be done during Mass!
FRIDAYS OF LENT
It is the custom of St. Nicholas Church to offer an opportunity for parishioners and others to enter more deeply into the Lord's Passion in preparation for the sacred Triduum and Easter. Each Friday have a simple potluck supper followed by Stations of the Cross and Adoration with Confession (on the Fridays Fr. Robert is available)
- 1800- Simple meatless supper: bring a dish to share!
- 1900- Stations of the Cross
- 1930- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Confession
LENTEN PENANCE SERVICES
The Catechism of the Catholic Church statement, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year" (CCC 1457), includes a footnote reference to the Code of Canon Law: "After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year" (CIC 989). "Grave sins" here means "mortal sins" so, accordingly, "serious sins" in the Catechism are to be understood as mortal. Keep in mind that for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met: grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent (cf. CCC 1857). A sin of grave matter which lacks either of the other conditions is not a mortal sin. In such a case the matter is grave but the sin is not. TheCatechism explains, "One commits venial sin . . . when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent" (CCC 1862).
Confession is offered at St. Nicholas on Saturdays from 1600-1645 or by appointment. During the season of Lent, additional opportunities are made available, particularly Communal Penance Services. This year they will be offered on the following dates:
- Tuesday, March 1st at 1900- St. Nicholas Church
- Thursday, March 3rd at 1900- Immaculate Conception Church
- Wednesday, March 9th at 1900- St. Raphael Church
- Tuesday, March 15th at 1900- Sacred Heart Cathedral
If it has been a while since you have been to Confession, it is suggested that you make an appointment with the priest so that you can have as much time as you desire to confess your sins. Everyone should prepare themselves ahead of time for the Sacrament by doing an Examination of Conscience. Several versions are available here:
- The Catholic Bishops of the United States have several available here.
- The National Catholic Register offers one for adults here.
- Catholic Education Resource Center offers one for teens here.
- Catholic Parents Online offers one for children here.