From the Rector: Ash Wednesday
Feb08

From the Rector: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, February 14th (The following is a condensed version of an article by Father Michael Van Sloun, pastor of St. Bartholomew in Wayzata, that first appeared in 2008 in The Catholic Spirit.) The imposition of ashes is a solemn ritual that signals the beginning of the holy season of Lent. The ceremony is distinctive; there is no liturgical action like it throughout the entire church year. The ashes come from a previous Palm Sunday. The palms are burned, the ashes collected and then crushed into a fine, sooty powder and placed into bowls. The ashes are blessed by the priest during the Ash Wednesday Mass after the homily. Then, in a Communion-like procession, people are invited to come forward, and the ashes are applied to each person’s forehead in the shape of a cross as the minister says either, “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15), the usual prayer, or “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), the older, more traditional invocation. Ashes symbolize two main things in the Old Testament: Death, repentance Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash. For example, Abraham told God, “I am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27), a reference to his human mortality. Jeremiah described death as a “valley of corpses and ashes” (Jeremiah 31:40). Ashes are an ominous sign, and we use them on Ash Wednesday to remind ourselves of our own impending deaths. Death may come sooner, or it may come later, but it will surely come. And if death is coming, we need to be prepared, and the time to prepare for death is now, and the way to prepare is to live according to God’s ways. When the prophet Daniel shamefacedly clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes, they were a sign of his people’s contrition for their rebellion, wickedness and treachery (Daniel 9:3). When Jonah warned the Ninevites that God planned to destroy their city because of their corruption and depravity, the people covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes as a sign of their intention to turn from their evil ways (Jonah 3:6,10). Ashes are a plea to God for mercy and compassion, pardon and forgiveness. Moreover, they are a public admission of guilt, an expression of sorrow for sins that have been committed, a promise to reform and a pledge to resist temptation in the future. We, too, are sinners. When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to...

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Sunday School: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb02

Sunday School: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday School To print or view the Sunday School page, click on the link below: Sunday School-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle...

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From the Rector: Why abstain from meat on Fridays
Feb02

From the Rector: Why abstain from meat on Fridays

Why abstain from meat on Fridays Why is it that the Church instructs Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays (as well as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), but gives the “thumbs-up” for Catholics to eat fish? First of all we must ask the question, “why Friday?” The USCCB gives a succinct explanation: Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church. Since it is believed Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross on a Friday, Christians from the very beginning have set aside that day to unite their sufferings to Jesus. This led the Church to recognize every Friday as a “Good Friday” where Christians can remember Christ’s passion by offering up a specific type of penance. For much of the Church’s history meat was singled out as a worthy sacrifice on account of its association with feasts and celebrations. In most ancient cultures meat was considered a delicacy and the “fattened calf” was not slaughtered unless there was something to celebrate. Since Fridays were thought of as a day of penance and mortification, eating meat on a Friday to “celebrate” the death of Christ didn’t seem right. (As an aside, some bishops have chosen to lift the ban when Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent, as it is considered a “solemnity” for many Irish Catholics.) But why is fish not considered “meat”? According to the USCCB the laws of the Church classify the abstinence from “land animals.” Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Fish, on the other hand, are not in that same classification. Fish are a different category of animal.  Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted. In Latin the word used to describe what kind of “meat” is not permitted on Fridays is carnis, and specifically relates to “animal flesh” and never included fish as part of the definition. Additionally, fish in these cultures was not considered a “celebratory” meal and was more of a penance to eat. Our current culture is much different as meat is generally considered the cheaper option on the menu and no longer has the cultural connection to celebrations. This is why many people are confused about the regulations, especially those who love to eat fish and do not consider it a penance. In the end, the Church’s intention is to encourage the faithful...

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Sunday School: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan26

Sunday School: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday School To print or view the Sunday School page, click on the link below: Sunday School-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B...

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From the Rector: The Angel of Portugal
Jan26

From the Rector: The Angel of Portugal

The Angel of Portugal Many Catholics already know that Mary appeared to three poor children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. But did you know about the angel that visited the children before Mary? In 1916, the year before Mary appeared to them, the children Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco were leading their families’ flocks out to pasture when an angel appeared to them. “We began to see,” Lucia later wrote in her memoirs, “in the distance, above the trees that stretched to the east, a light whiter than snow in the form of a young man, quite transparent, and as brilliant as crystal in the rays of the sun.” The angel spoke to them: “Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me.” He and the children knelt down, and they repeated after the angel this prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.” When they finished, the angel said this before vanishing: “Pray in this way. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you.” Another day, the same angel appeared to them a second time. Again, he exhorted them to prayer: “What are you doing? You must pray! Pray! The hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs for you. You must offer your prayers and sacrifices to God, the Most High.” When the children asked what sacrifices they should make, the angel explained: “In every way you can offer sacrifice to God in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for sinners. In this way you will bring peace to our country, for I am its guardian angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, bear and accept with patience the sufferings God will send you.” A third time, the angel appeared to them again – this time holding a bleeding Eucharistic host over a chalice. Leaving the host and chalice floating in the air, the angel knelt and led them in a new prayer: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.” The angel then offered the host and chalice to the children saying, “Eat and drink the...

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