POPE’S MESSAGE | Giving to the poor is part of jubilee year

Pope Francis, right, and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston celebrated Mass with Capuchin friars Feb. 9 in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY — A jubilee year that does not open people's wallets to share what they have with others is not a true jubilee, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience Feb. 10 in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis spoke about the description of a jubilee year in the Book of Leviticus. The religious feast also had serious social implications, he said, because it proclaimed a forgiveness of debts, the freedom of indentured servants and special generosity toward the poor and the stranger.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Saying ‘no’ to something leads to a stronger ‘yes’

Bishop Edward M. Rice celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at Rosati-Kain High School, reminding students: “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.” Before Mass, Emma Potts had a conversation with Bishop Rice while the two students assisting him as vimps, Mary Rackers and Kelsey Rohman, stood behind. The “vimpa” (white shawl) is used to hold the mitre or crosier, thus preventing direct contact with the “pontificalia” by anyone other than the bishop.

In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10), Jesus criticizes those who perform righteous deeds — like fasting — so that others may see them. Some people, misunderstanding that Gospel, think we should skip the fasting and the ashes of Lent. But notice: Jesus isn't criticizing people for fasting. He's criticizing how and why they do it. The solution isn't to abandon the external observances. After all, Jesus follows up by telling them to do the external observances. The proper response is to observe the letter and the spirit of the law.

Editorial | Seek to mimic God’s love in Lent

When ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the cross, it's a reminder of several things.

It's a call to repentance: a physical sign that we're sinners in need of forgiveness, which is how the prophets used it in the Old Testament. It also reminds us that God created us from the earth and when we die, we will return to it.

Lenten Planner: Reflection, repentance and renewed fervor

Lenten Planner

Lent is a season of reflection, penance, fasting and service as we await the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ at Easter.

"Lent is a time for reflection and repentance, a time to pray with renewed fervor for ourselves, our families and the Church," Archbishop Robert Carlson wrote in a letter for the Lenten season. "During this holy season let's also pray for the transformation of the world we live in. Through the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, may we all be agents of the Father's mercy!"

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | This Lent, wake to the challenge of God's Word

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

Welcome to the growing season of the Church's liturgical year. Other seasons have their beauty, but Lent challenges us to take more seriously our life with Christ and open our hearts to His transforming power. This means allowing Christ to challenge us in the depths of our being. There are places deep within us that need His special attention. This Lent, He will challenge the areas that are crying out to God for freedom and deliverance -- a challenge to wake to the transforming power of His word.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Fasting is a wake-up call to our habits

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

As Lent gets underway, people sometimes wonder: Why do we fast? I'd like to propose some answers to that question in the next two articles.

On the simplest level, we fast because the Church asks us to. Simple obedience is a great reason to start fasting, and a great reason to continue to fast, and a great support when we're tempted to give up on fasting.

Though it's a good place to start, it would be sad if our understanding and practice of fasting stopped there.

On a deeper level, we fast as a wake-up call to our bad habits, and a wake-up call to good habits.

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