As the start of Lent draws near on Ash Wednesday (March 2), in the hope of assisting the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn to celebrate this season of preparation for Easter in a fruitful manner, Bishop Robert Brennan wishes to call attention to the following:
ABSTINENCE: All the faithful who have reached 14 years of age are required to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday (March 2) and on all the Fridays of the Lenten Season.
FASTING: All the faithful between the ages of 18 and 59 (inclusive) are bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday (April 15) by limiting oneself to one full meal and avoiding food between meals. Light sustenance may be taken on two other occasions during the day.
EASTER DUTY: After having been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, the faithful are obligated to receive holy Communion at least once a year, this precept to be fulfilled during the Easter Season, unless it is fulfilled at some other time for a good reason. In the United States, the period for fulfilling this precept is extended from the First Sunday of Lent (March 6) until Pentecost Sunday (June 5).
THE SOLEMNITIES OF SAINT JOSEPH AND THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD: The liturgical solemnities of Saint Joseph (March 19) and the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25) are to be celebrated with due solemnity even though they fall within the Season of Lent.
RECONCILIATION MONDAY: Reconciliation Monday is observed in the Diocese on the Monday of Holy Week (April 11). Observance of this day allows the faithful to experience the grace of forgiveness and mercy in the Sacrament of Penance. Those conscious of grave (mortal) sin are obligated to confess before receiving holy Communion.
TIME OF CELEBRATION OF THE EASTER VIGIL: Sunset in Brooklyn on Holy Saturday, April 16, is at 7:36 pm. Therefore, the celebration of the Liturgy for the Easter Vigil should begin after that, realistically at 8 p.m. or later, and must end before dawn on Easter Sunday.
Please take note of the following, as well:
MUSIC: During Lent, the “Alleluia” is not sung or said. Musical instruments are to be used at liturgical celebrations only to give support to the singing.
CHURCH DECORATIONS: The church should not be decorated with flowers during Lent.
HOLY WATER: Holy Water is not removed from the fonts during Lent. It is only removed immediately before the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper and replaced at the Easter Vigil with water blessed at that celebration.
FUNERALS: Funeral masses are not permitted during the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). The rite to be used at funerals during those days is the rite for Funerals Outside Mass.
[Related: Diocese Returns to Traditional Distribution of Ashes]
The obligation to observe, as a whole or substantially, the penitential days specified by the Church, is a serious one.
The faithful, therefore, are encouraged to celebrate the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance frequently during the Lenten Season. Additionally, reading the Word of God, praying the Stations of the Cross, praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and showing generosity towards the poor are all means of intensifying our spiritual lives during the Lenten Season.
Pastors and parents are responsible to see that young people, who may not be bound to the above requirements, are educated in an authentic sense of penance.
All other Fridays of the year remain days of penance in remembrance of the Passion of the Lord. The Bishops of the United States have recommended abstinence from meat as a penance for all Fridays of the year, although each person may substitute that tradition for some other practice of personal penance. This may involve acts of self-denial, prayer or charity.
In prayerful pilgrimage with the catechumens and candidates for full initiation, let us accompany the Lord on His way to the cross and the empty tomb. May we use this Lent to be more closely united to Jesus in His death and resurrection.