Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Ash Wednesday explained - Receive Ashes in Church and begin Fasting for the 40 days of Lent


Ash Wednesday a moveable feast that begins the liturgical season of Lent. It does not have a specific date but depends on when Easter is celebrated in 2019 it is on March 6. On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the period of the fast. Healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast or perform some act of penance. 
Penance can involve watching less TV or Internet, helping the poor, spending time with the sick, donating clothing, spending more time in prayer, attending Mass more often, going to Confession more often.
Abstinence from meat is required on Ash Wednesday and Fridays. Fasting requires the consumption of 1 full meal and only 2 smaller meals. Ash Wednesday starts the commemoration of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Lent is actually 46 days as the Sundays do not count for the fasting period. When people attend Church services on this day they are commonly blessed with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. 
Is Ash Wednesday Mass a day of obligation to attend Mass and receive ashes? No, it is not required for the faithful to attend Mass nor receive ashes. However, it is very good to go to Mass on this day and all should try to go to Mass on Ash Wednesday. It is encouraged and visible sign to pray, do penance, and be humble. 
Where do the ashes come from?
The ashes are usually derived from the burning of the palms used on Palm Sunday. 


What do the Ashes on your forehead mean?
They are to remind people of their sins and call them to repentence. Usually a priest, deacon or lay person marks the person's forehead.


 The biblical verse is said:
Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3: 19
OR
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Mark 1 : 15
This marking is called a sacramental. Churches are decorated with purple during the season of Lent. Statues and crosses are covered with purple cloth. Lent ends with the celebration of Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.
The Church encourages the faithful to go to Confession or Reconciliation on this day. 
Confession involves the telling of one's sins to a priest who then provides forgiveness according to the commission of Christ.
John 20:21-23:
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

BIBLICAL ROOTS
There are many biblical roots to repentence for sin with ashes, here are a few sources:
Judith 7: 14
But the children of Israel, when they saw the multitude of them, prostrated themselves upon the ground, putting ashes upon their heads, praying with one accord, that the God of Israel would shew his mercy upon his people.

Jeremiah 6:26
Gird thee with sackcloth, O daughter of my people, and sprinkle thee with ashes: make thee mourning as for an only son, a bitter lamentation, because the destroyer shall suddenly come upon us.
Images shared from Google Images - Rules from the USCCB

Saint March 6 : Our Lady of Nazareth - #Nazaré


by: Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Biographical selection: 

The chronicles of the old Portugal report this episode that took place in the year 1182, on the day of the exaltation of the Holy Cross. Dom Fuas Roupinho, a knight and vassal of King Afonso Henriques, was out hunting on a foggy day. He was pursuing a deer when it came to an unexpected precipice and fell to its death into the sea below.


The horse, which was in close pursuit, reared on the very edge of the cliff, and it seemed certain that Dom Fuas would follow the deer to his death. Knowing that a little distance to his left was a cave with the statue of the Virgin of Nazareth, Dom Fuas immediately invoked her protection. He was saved, and in thanksgiving he built a small “chapel of memory” (Ermida da Memória) over the cave in her honor.

According to a document found with it, the little statue of the Virgin had been venerated in Nazareth in the times of early Christianity. When the iconoclast heresy started in Constantinople and the heretics were destroying all the statues, a monk called Ciriaco took it to a monastery in Spain in the proximity of Merida.

In 714, when the Saracens invaded the Iberian Peninsula, King Rodrigo fled with Friar Germano to the Atlantic coast, bearing the statue with them. They hid the statue in a small cave off the coast of the site that was later to become Nazaré, where it remained until it was found by a shepherd in 1179.

After Our Lady miraculously saved the life of Dom Fuas, the devotion to Our Lady of Nazareth spread broadly through the country and was the source of countless graces for the people. In 1377 King Fernando ordered a Church to be built near the little chapel, and the statue is venerated there now.

Comments of Prof. Plinio: 

The fact is full of grandiose memories from History. Dom Fuas Roupinho was one of the great heroes in the battles that marked the birth of Portugal and its independence from Spain.



The scene is superb: a noble hunting on a foggy day near the ocean. The deer he is chasing falls to a sudden death from a precipice. His horse rears at the edge of the cliff, and it seems certain he will die. He prays to Our Lady in a nearby cave, and she intervenes. The horse recovers and the noble is saved.

The statue of Our Lady is one that was venerated in Nazareth at the beginning of Christianity. How many crooked lines Divine Providence used to make this statue be there to save a Portuguese noble, right at the very time when Portugal was being founded. The episode is very poetic. It also shows the diverse ways Our Lady uses to foster a devotion.

The statue was venerated in Nazareth. Then, in flight during a persecution, it went to Spain. There it made a profound impression on the King, who took it with him when he was also obliged to flee. He and his companion, a friar, placed the image in a cave. Later it was found by a shepherd, and the devotion continued, although it was barely surviving. It would, however, grow enormously after Our Lady saved Dom Fuas Roupinho.

When devotion began to diminish in the Middle East, Our Lady made her statue go to Spain. When the devotion began to cool in Spain, she inspired a King to bring her to a place that would be part of a new country, Portugal. From there, the devotion would spread throughout that land and to other countries for the good of many people. Two hundreds years ago, the same devotion came from Portugal to Brazil, to the city of Belém do Pará. At the sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazareth, there is a center of pilgrimage year round. On the day of her feast, more than one million people go to venerate her.

The story reveals the way Our Lady often works her wonders. It reminds me of that principle of the theology of History – residuum revertetur [the remnant will return]. When everything seems to be near an end, when only a remnant remains faithful, then everything is reborn from it. A series of failures followed by rebirths - this is often found in the ways of Our Lady.



Our Lady of Nazaré, Brazil
Her ways are the royal ways of a Queen. She permits everything to almost disappear, and then she proves that she can re-establish everything. She restores what was there before and even more from only a remnant.

This is the rhythm History follows: we had the apogee of the Catholic spirit in the Middle Ages. Now we have its complete failure and the apogee of the revolutionary spirit. A remnant remains faithful fighting to destroy the Revolution and make the Reign of Mary, which will be built and reach an apex still higher than the Middle Ages.

The decadence of the Reign of Mary will bring, in its turn, another epoch that will represent the victory of the Antichrist. Then also, a remnant will remain faithful to fight the evil. The fidelity of that remnant will be rewarded with the second coming of Our Lord and His final triumph, along with the triumph of Our Lady.

This grandiose historical law also applies to our individual spiritual lives. When we experience an apparent failure, we should confide and pray to Our Lady because often it will be the re-starting of a new step in our devotion to her.
Source: Tradition in Action

Pope Francis' Prayer Intention for March "Let us pray that Christian communities, especially those who are persecuted, feel that they are close to Christ..."

Pope Francis Prayer Intention for March, is for Christians to pray for the “recognition of the rights of Christian Communities.” He especially asks for prayers for persecuted Christians in the world.
FULL TEXT from Video with Pope Francis
 It might be hard for us to believe, but there are more martyrs today than in the first centuries. They are persecuted because they speak the truth and proclaim Jesus Christ to this society. This happens particularly where religious freedom is not yet guaranteed. However, it also happens in countries where, in theory and on paper, they protect freedom and human rights. Let us pray that Christian communities, especially those who are persecuted, feel that they are close to Christ and have their rights respected.

What is Mardi Gras or Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday? All you Need to Know with a Recipe!


"Mardi Gras" is french for fat tuesday. This refers to the day before Ash Wednesday when the 40 days of Lent officially begins. "Mardi Gras", "Carnival" and "Shrove Tuesday" all involve celebrations of eating, drinking, dancing, etc. before the fasting of Lent.  Some celebrate the "Carnival" by joining in parades with elaborate costumes, festive music, dancing, and other activities. 


Princess Kate Middleton: on Shrove Tuesday (Image source: Google)
The english word 'Shrove' refers to confessing of sins for Lent. In parts of Europe the "Shrove Tuesday" is celebrated by flipping pancakes. 
"Carnival" means farewell to meat.
There are many cities world-wide that have historic and magnificent celebrations on this day. The most famous include cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Trinidad and Tobago, New Orleans (Louisiana), Quebec City (Canada).
Historical roots in Jewish Tradition
The Jews also celebrate the re-dedication of the Temple with Hanukkah. When the re-dedication occurred there was a lighting of the lamps with pure oil that lasted for 8 days. To commemorate this the Jews eat latkes (potato pancakes), made with lots of oil. 
IRISH SHROVE TUESDAY PANCAKE RECIPE
Ingredients:
8oz all purpose/plain flour
Pinch salt
2 eggs
2½ cups milk
2 tsp melted butter plus melted butter for cooking
Method:
Makes 12 pancakes
Sieve the flour into a large baking bowl, add the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and beat well until smooth and lump free.
Add half the milk and the 2 tsp of butter, beat well. Add the remaining milk and stir.
Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly grease a pancake pan or frying pan with a little melted butter, heat until very hot and add a ladle of batter to evenly and thinly coat the base of the pan. Cook until set and lightly golden. Flip over (if you are really brave try tossing the pancake in the air, great fun) and cook on the other side for approx 30 seconds.
Remove the pancake from the pan, place on a sheet of kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue as above until all the batter is used up.
(RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/Celebrate-Fat-Tuesday-or-Shrove-Tuesday-with-this-delicious-Irish-pancake-recipe-139804393.html#ixzz1n4N5C1tP)
Some traditions over the centuries have led to excessive indulgences during this day. Let us keep sober and remember the roots of the Lenten fast when Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. In the Gospels we find the story which is the reason for the fast; when Jesus "was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him." (Mark 1:13)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday, March 5, 2019 #Eucharist


Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 348

Reading 1SIR 35:1-12

To keep the law is a great oblation,
and he who observes the
commandments sacrifices a peace offering.
In works of charity one offers fine flour,
and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise.
To refrain from evil pleases the LORD,
and to avoid injustice is an atonement.
Appear not before the LORD empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts.
The just one's offering enriches the altar
and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High.
The just one's sacrifice is most pleasing,
nor will it ever be forgotten.
In a generous spirit pay homage to the LORD,
be not sparing of freewill gifts.
With each contribution show a cheerful countenance,
and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously, according to your means.

For the LORD is one who always repays,
and he will give back to you sevenfold.
But offer no bribes, these he does not accept!
Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion.
For he is a God of justice,
who knows no favorites.

Responsorial Psalm 50:5-6, 7-8, 14 And 23

R. (23b)  To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you;
God, your God, am I.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

AlleluiaSEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus,
'We have given up everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Saint March 5 : St. John Joseph of the Cross : Confessor


St. John Joseph of the Cross
CONFESSOR
Feast: March 5
Born:
August 15, 1654, Ischia
Died:
March 5, 1739
Canonized:
1839, Rome by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:
Ischiaa
Born on the Island of Ischia, Southern Italy, 1654; d. 5 March, 1739. From his earliest years he was given to prayer and virtue. So great was his love of poverty that he would always wear the dress of the poor, though he was of noble birth. At the age of sixteen years he entered the Order of St. Francis at naples, amongst the Friars of the Alcantarine Reform, being the first Italian to join this reform which had been instituted in Spain by St. Peter of Alcantara. Throughout his life he was given to the greatest austerity: he fasted constantly, never drank wine, and slept but three hours each night. In 1674 he was sent to found a friary at Afila, in Piedmont; and he assisted with his own hands in the building. Much against his will, he was raised to the priesthood. As superior, he always insisted upon performing the lowliest offices in the community. In 1702 he was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Alcantarine Reform in Italy. He was favoured in a high degree with the gift of miracles, people of every condition being brought to him in sickness. His zeal for souls was such that even in sickness he would not spare any labour for them. His great devotion was to our Blessed Lady, and he was urgent with his penitents that they also should cultivate this. He was beatified in 1789, and canonized in 1839.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)