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Lenten thoughts and practices

Dear Parishioners,
We are very close to the season of Lent. Lent is a time to be closer to our Lord than before through fasting, prayer and other pious activities. It is a time for having reconciliation with God and our brethren. Here I would like to bring your attention to some of the Lenten thoughts and practices.
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. In Old Testament times people used ashes in a variety of religious ways. For example, the book of Jeremiah (6:26) tells how people rolled in ashes as a sign of mourning. The book of Jonah (3:6) tells us
when Jonah declared to the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness, everyone from the king on down responded with repentance put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. And the book of Job (42:6) mentions the custom of sprinkling ashes on oneself as a sign of repentance.
Jesus referred to this latter practice in New Testament times speaking to some people, he said: “If the miracles which where performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have long ago put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from sins” (Matt 11:21).
This brings us to the use of ashes in our times. Each year on Ash Wednesday we mark our foreheads with ashes. We do this for two reasons: First, ashes are a sign of repentance. They indicate that we are sorry for our sins and will do penance for them during Lent. This explains why the priest may say, when he marks with ashes, “turn away from your sins and be faithful to the Gospel”.
Second, ashes are sign of our mortality. They indicate that we will die someday. To understand this second sign, recall that right after Adam and Eve sinned, God said to them: “Because of what you have done…you will go back to soil (dust), and you will become soil (dust) again.” (Genesis 3: 1719). This explains why the priest may also say, when he marks with ashes “You are dust and to dust you shall return”.
This brings us to what we will do during Lent. The Church prescribes fasting of one full meal or two smaller meals and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Catholics aged 18 to 59 are bound to fast; those 14 and older to abstinence. Those who are ill are freed from these obligations. Everyone, even those above the age of 59, are encouraged to fast and abstain. Parents and educators are reminded of their duty to introduce children gradually to the understanding and practice of penance.
Lent is also a time of growing closer to the Lord by spending more time in prayer. This would also be a good time to renew praying the Rosary daily if you have been neglectful. Reading the Bible and spiritual books and praying the stations of the Cross are also a great help.
Wish you all a meaningful Lenten season.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Jojo Augustine

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Many people are uncertain of the proper pronunciation of many words in the readings. Please see the PDF below called "How to Pronounce Words in the Readings"

PDF How to Pronounce Words in the Readings