The penitential and grace-filled season of Lent begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday, that this year falls on Feb. 14. This is a time of renewal for the entire Catholic community. It is also a time of spiritual accompaniment as we assist the catechumens and candidates who will be welcomed into communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil.
In order to assist the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn to take full advantage of the Lenten season, our Diocesan Bishop, the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, would like to call our attention to the following:
Abstinence – All the faithful who have reached 14 years of age are required to abstain totally from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.
Fasting – All the faithful between the ages of 18 and 59 inclusive are bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This practice involves limiting oneself to a single full meal and avoiding food between meals. Light sustenance may also be taken on two other occasions during the day.
Ash Wednesday – Feb. 14 – For the first time since 1945, the observance of Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 14. Some have inquired about the possibility of receiving a dispensation from the laws of fasting and abstinence. Our observances of these spiritual practices unite us with Catholics throughout the world as we commence a time of prayer and penance in preparation for Easter. For this reason, no dispensation will be granted from these universal norms.
Catholics who desire to celebrate Valentine’s Day should consider doing so on Tuesday, Feb. 13, a day traditionally associated with festive celebrations.
Lunar New Year – Feb. 16 – In order to respond to the legitimate request presented by those celebrating the Lunar New Year, and in recognition of the cultural and familial significance this celebration has among many people of Asian descent, the Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn has granted a dispensation from the penitential obligation of abstinence from meat for Friday, Feb. 16, the first Friday of Lent, for those members of the faithful celebrating this occasion, as well as for other guests present at such celebrations.
Reconciliation Monday – This year our diocese will once again celebrate Reconciliation Monday on March 26, which is the Monday of Holy Week. As in the past, we hope this will be a wonderful opportunity for the faithful to participate in this great Sacrament of Healing. After having reached the age of discretion, members of the faithful are bound to confess once a year grave sins which have not already been absolved.
Easter Duty – After they have been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, all the faithful are bound by the obligation of receiving Holy Communion at least once a year. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season, unless for a good reason it is filled at another time of the year.
By special indult, in the United States, the time period for fulfilling this precept has been extended to include the period beginning the First Sunday of Lent (Feb. 18) to the celebration of Pentecost (May 20).