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Now Is the Time to Prepare for Lent

At Sunday Mass, Father Steve told the congregants that they should not wait until Ash Wednesday to plan how they would observe Lent. Now is the time. Many with good intentions wait until Lent begins and then before you know it, half the season is over and we haven’t even begun preparing for Easter Sunday.

In former times, last Sunday would have been celebrated as Septuagesima Sunday, explained Father Steve. That signals there are 70 days before Easter and serves as a reminder that Lent is coming. Get ready. Be prepared. The time is at hand.

In Hollis this weekend, parishioners at St. Gerard Majella parish will begin preparing for Lent. The pastor, Father Josephjude Gannon has come up with a unique and contemporary way to get started.

“We are creating a Lent # (hashtag) for the parish,” explains Father Gannon. “It’s #welcome2sgm.”

On the Sunday before Lent – Feb. 26 – members of the youth group from the parish will be present at every Mass handing out “Welcome” tags for everyone to wear at Mass. Then at each liturgy, the priest celebrant will ask each worshipper to turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves and then take a “selfie,” and tag each other’s picture on social media with that new tag.

“Then we are going to ask them to ‘tag’ friends and family who are not at Mass and invite them to the parish next week so they can have a ‘selfie’ with them at church,” says Father Gannon.

“It’s an attempt at witness, and evangelization. Maybe it will be a fun way for people to ‘invite’ family and friends back to church for Lent.”

It’s certainly an out-of-the-box idea. Maybe it’s just the kind of thing we need to pump new blood into our religious practices. Who knows, maybe it will catch on and we’ll all be posting “selfies” of ourselves in church?

For those who prefer the more traditional ways of Lenten observance, we will be publishing the Church’s official practices next week. They’re relatively easy these days, as compared to the old days. Today, the Church asks us to fast on two days of Lent – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday – and to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent.

A lot easier than it used to be, but at the same time, it does require discipline and allows us to self-identify as Catholics during this liturgical season.

Some people will give up certain things during Lent. Perhaps, alcohol, cigarettes or desserts! Others will try to do something special – attend daily Mass, visit the sick and shut-ins, help out in the parish.

Maybe your parish will be hosting special programs for Lent. Make it a point to attend. Or simply stop by the church and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament instead of walking on by.

It all adds up to a good solid exercise to remind ourselves that we are material creatures who are heading toward a non-material existence. It reminds us of our faith and hope that we have in an afterlife with the Creator and Master Designer of the universe.

The Church recommends Lent as a time of fasting, prayer and alms-giving. It’s not too early to figure out right now how we are going to put that into practice to make this Lent a truly meaningful one that leads us to a reverent and joyous celebration during the Sacred Triduum of Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

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