Fasting and abstinence are often linked together but are two different disciplines. Fasting has to do with the quantity of food eaten on particular days. Abstinence refers to the kind of food denied oneself, for example, meat. Fasting has always been a popular religious practice. Denying oneself a basic human need such as food for a period of time may be done for different reasons; it prepares for a feast, it promotes self-discipline, it supports one’s prayers, it cleanses oneself of previous abuses and sin. All of these have been motives for the Lenten tradition of fasting. Another motive has always been part of Lenten fasting and abstinence: almsgiving, giving to the needy from what is saved through the discipline of fasting and abstinence, or from one’s surplus. Fasting and abstinence began as voluntary practices. Gradually they became very strict and were enforced by Church law. This rather severe Lenten discipline remained in force until 1966. At this time, the Church lifted the mandatory law while expecting the members of the Church to continue the practices of discipline on a voluntary basis. The mind of the Church was this: Jesus sacrificed Himself out of love for us. We can sacrifice to show our love and appreciation for Jesus. Our sacrifice is a reflection to others of His sacrifice for us.
Traditionally, Lenten devotions have drawn attention to the suffering and death of Jesus. The most popular one is known as the Stations of the Cross. During the time of the crusades (1095-1270), it became popular for pilgrims to the Holy Land to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to Calvary. In the next two centuries, after the Moslems recaptured the Holy Land, pilgrimages were too dangerous. A substitute pilgrimage, the Stations of the Cross, became a popular outdoor devotion throughout Europe during the middle Ages. They represented important events from Sacred Scripture or tradition of Jesus’ journey to Calvary and varied in number from 5 to 20 until the 18th century when Pope Clement XII fixed the number at 14. In the mid-18th century, Stations were allowed inside Churches. In the 1960’s, it became popular to add a 15th Station representing the end of the journey: The Resurrection.
Again this year, we will gradually build a cross to recall the great gift of Jesus’ love for us, which was sealed by His sacrifice and blood on Calvary. His sacrifice reconciled all human kind with the Father.
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.
- The obligation of abstinence (refraining from eating meat) begins at the age of 14. The law of fasting (limiting oneself to one full meal and two lighter meals) obliges all between the ages of 18-59. No one should consider this obligation lightly.
- Those individuals who have a medical condition in which fasting may be considered harmful are not obliged to fast, but should perform some other act of penance or charity.
- Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.
- All members of the Christian Faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity during the Lenten season beyond what is prescribed by law.
- As a general rule, a request for a dispensation from the obligation of abstinence on Fridays of Lent will not be considered unless some serious reason is present. The attendance at social events, banquets, wedding rehearsals or receptions are not considered sufficient reason to request a dispensation.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Lenten Devotions, namely Stations of the Cross will be celebrated in Church each Tuesday evening after the 7:00 p.m. Mass and Fridays at 2:00p.m. with the school children when school is scheduled.
EUCHARISTIC HOLY HOUR
Is your life hectic, busy? Are you tired and restless? What are you doing about it? We have the wonderful opportunity to take advantage of our weekly Holy Hour. Every Tuesday evening after the 7:00 p.m. Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is enthroned on the altar for Evening Prayer and Adoration until 8:30 p.m. Our lives are so busy and hectic; we often hunger and yearn for quiet, relaxation, and peace. If we make the time, the true and real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist will satisfy us. Lent gives us the opportunity to slow down, and to make this a priority. St. Augustine once said, “Our souls are restless, O Lord, until they rest in You.”
There will be Lenten inserts each week in the bulletin. We ask that you make use of them for your spiritual readings and activities. Also, the parish spiritual library in the vestibule of the St. Rosalia Church contains some wonderful books, which you may find useful.
CHILDREN’S LITURGY OF THE WORD
Children’s Liturgy of the Word will take place during Lent at the 11:00 a.m. Sunday Mass. Check the bulletin for specific Sunday dates. On Holy Saturday, March 31st, at 12:45 p.m., there will be a “Story Telling and Holy Easter Egg Hunt.” The story telling will take place in Church and the Holy Easter Egg Hunt will be outside on the parish property. Children must be accompanied by an adult for both the story telling and the egg hunt.
As an on-going project of charity and almsgiving, throughout Lent we will be collecting certain items for the poor of Pittsburgh. In Matthew’s Gospel, those standing before the judgment seat ask “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or away from home or naked or ill or in prison and not attend You in Your needs?” The Lord will answer them, “I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to Me.” In the name of Jesus, we will collect bars of soap, plastic bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and small packs of tissue. There will be large baskets on the Communion rail in which our offerings can be placed each Sunday of Lent. These will be distributed to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly that they work with along with the homeless through Mercy Hospital’s Project Safety Net.