lent

Lent is a time for prayer, interior conversion

As Pope Francis described in his 2017 Lenten message, "Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ's victory over death.

"This season urgently calls us to conversion," he wrote. "Christians are asked to return to God 'with all their hearts' (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord."

As we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1, how do we prepare our hearts for conversion and the path to Easter? Turning toward prayer, through the Scriptures, is one solid suggestion.

DEAR FATHER | Stewing over whether a parish is burned by a big fish fry

You raise a valid point, to wit, that the penitential nature of these two days ought not to be compromised.

However, there are a couple of points:

• Church law does define Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days on which Catholics must fast, but not all Catholics. Only those aged 18-59 are obligated to fast, and even then, those whose health would be seriously injured by a strict fast are allowed to consume as much food as necessary.

GUEST COLUMNIST | Lent and the culture of greed

Once again, Pope Francis doesn't mince words.

In his 2017 Lenten message, our refreshingly candid pontiff takes on the subject of money in our lives and pulls no punches.

The love of money can become a "tyrannical idol," said Pope Francis, who reminds us that St. Paul stated "the love of money is the root of all evils."

Although society is saturated with consumerism and we obsess about money, the discussion of it remains a social taboo. It's rude to ask someone to divulge his or her salary, and we wouldn't ask someone what they paid for their new sofa.

DEAR FATHER | Giving up meat during Lent is a sign of solidarity with one another

Before looking at why we abstain from meat as a common penance, we should examine why we even do penance in the first place.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Chrism Mass is a great Catholic tradition

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Rice celebrated a memorial Mass in honor of the four Missionaries of Charity murdered March 4 in Yemen. The Mass at Sts. Teresa and Bridget, the parish served by the local Missionaries of Charity in St. Louis, was one of three memorial Masses celebrated March 14 in St. Louis.

Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: Oil is a sign of abundance and joy; it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength. Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life (CCC 1293-4).

Most people know about the big celebrations of Holy Week — Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, Easter Mass.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Walk with Jesus this Holy Week

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

On Palm Sunday, we journey with Jesus through the final week of His earthly life. As He travels to Jerusalem on a donkey, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road, "praising God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed, 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'" This echoes the angels in Bethlehem who proclaimed His birth. The rest of the Palm Sunday readings tell a different story.

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