A Meditation on Lent, written by William Arthur Ward
By Most Rev. Michael J. Sis
Bishop of San Angelo
Lent 2014 has the potential to be the best Lent you’ve ever had. With a little bit of planning and a willing heart, you can open yourself to receive graces like never before.
Lent is a season of conversion. Conversion is a turning away from illusory, dried-up wells that do not give life and a turning to God, our true fountain of love and abundant life. Lent originally developed as a 40-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil ceremony, but it is an opportunity for all members of the Church to grow.
From the very beginning of the Lenten season, the Church proclaims that Lent is about relationships. In the first reading of the Mass on Ash Wednesday, the Lord says in the Book of the Prophet Joel, “Return to me with your whole heart… return to the Lord, your God.”
As you think of what you will do this Lent, try to see how your observances connect with your relationships with God and with others. All the special practices of Lent (sacrifices, self-denial, and prayer) should bring us into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. The point is that Jesus is so important to us that we are willing to sacrifice for the sake of this relationship.
Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are not intended to prove our own holiness or to win God’s love for us. God is already loving us and saving us. He loves us first. Then, in response to his unconditional love, we joyfully enter into activities of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in order to thank God and to open ourselves more fully to God’s gift of grace.
Any relationship needs quality time for good communication. Our relationship with God is fostered when we set aside specific quiet time to talk with God and let God talk to us. This will mean sometimes turning off the constant noise of the TV, the radio, and the sound system.
I recommend writing into our calendars some special prayer times during this Lent. This should begin, of course, with the most important prayer time -- Sunday Mass. If we will take some time to prepare personally for Mass, it will be so much more fruitful. This preparation can include reading the Scripture passages ahead of time, recalling the persons you need to pray for in the Mass, and purposefully arriving early in order to settle into a spirit of prayer. At the end of Mass, rather than rushing out of the church, it is spiritually beneficial to remain in place for a few minutes, sitting or kneeling, silently thanking God for the gift of the Eucharist.
It is very helpful during Lent to pray at home with the daily Mass readings, and to attend daily Mass when possible. Some other prayer forms to consider for your Lent this year might be Eucharistic Adoration, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Rosary, or the Way of the Cross. The Internet has some beautiful versions. One of my favorites is called Everyone’s Way of the Cross by Clarence Enzler.
Speaking of prayer, Lent is always a great time to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation. There are many extra opportunities in the parishes throughout our diocese, and they are listed for your convenience on the diocesan website, www.sanangelodiocese.org. When was the last time you went to Confession? Every sin, no matter how private, affects our relationship with God and neighbor. Confessing our sins to a priest clarifies the social dimension of sin and reconciles us through the ministry of the Church.
Here is another idea for a Lenten practice that weaves together our personal prayer and our relationships with others. We can dedicate ourselves to sending e-mails, text messages, or phone calls, to particular individuals we know, letting them know that we are praying for them in this holy season.
Fasting and abstinence are hallmarks of Lent. Fasting means consuming less quantity. Abstinence means refraining from a certain kind of thing, such as meat or dessert or television. These disciplines help us to get in touch with our deep inner hunger and thirst for God. They connect us in solidarity with our poor and malnourished brothers and sisters around the world.
When we eat less and allow ourselves to feel some physical hunger, we are reminded that only God will ultimately satisfy the deepest longing of our heart. We join more closely to Jesus Christ, whose suffering in the body gave life to the world. Jesus said, “If you want to be my follower, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” If we want our hearts to be filled with Jesus, then we need to make some room to let him in.
Fasting and abstinence can be practiced in many different ways. The Church has minimum expectations for Catholics. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence from meat. In addition, all Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence from meat. For members of our Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onward.
Some choose additional forms of fasting or abstinence, such as refraining from consuming certain other foods, drinks, forms of entertainment, luxuries, time spent in front of screens, etc. It is not spiritually fruitful to become minimalists, just obeying the letter of the law. It is better to let it affect your heart. The fact is that we are all stuffed pretty full in our consumer-driven society. It is joyfully liberating to be able to live more simply and say, “I’m fine with less.”
Our acts of self-sacrifice during Lent are a way of saying that God is our greatest treasure, and that no other hungers should distract us from this deepest hunger. St. Augustine said: “You have made us dynamically oriented toward yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
At its core, almsgiving is the practice of giving money or goods to the poor. It includes not only the sharing of our time, space, and material resources with the needy, but also the practical good deeds we do for others. It is putting love into action. St. Paul said that there are three things that last -- faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
Almsgiving is ultimately about building relationships. It puts us in touch with the needs of others. When we put a little bit of money each day into our containers for CRS Rice Bowl, for example, we remind ourselves that we are connected with those people around the world who will benefit from those funds. Whatsoever we do for the least of the Lord’s brothers and sisters, that we do for the Lord Jesus himself.
Our Lenten practices of almsgiving could take many different forms. These might include such things as, for example, volunteering to put our talents at the service of others, visiting the sick or imprisoned, increasing our tithing to our parish, forgiving someone’s debt to us, picking up trash in public areas, or supporting a charitable agency.
As we go through life, each of us has times when we are the one helping, and other times when we are the one being helped. No one is an island. We are not isolated robots. We need one another. Almsgiving is a concrete expression of that perennial truth.
With all of these things – our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving -- what counts the most is the interior motive of conversion of heart to loving God and loving our neighbor. As your new bishop, I invite you to strengthen those relationships by observing a holy Lent that draws you to a more abundant and joyful life.
SAN ANGELO DEANERY
March 24 Wall St. Ambrose, 7:30 p.m.
March 26 Brady, St. Patrick, 6:30 p.m.
March 26 Sonora, St. Ann, 6:30 pm.
March 31 Eden,St. Charles, 6:30 p.m.
April 2 San Angelo, St. Margaret, 7 p.m.
April 7 Rowena, St. Joseph, 7:00 p.m,.
April 8 Big Lake, St. Margaret, 6:30 p.m.
April 9 Ozona, O.L. Perp. Help, 6:30 p.m.
April 10 San Angelo, St. .Joseph, 6:30 p.m.
April 14 Ballinger, St. Mary
April 15 San Angelo, Sacred Heart Cathedral, 7 p.m.
March 19 Brownwood, St. Mary, 7:00 p.m,
March 26 Coleman, Sacred Heart, 6:30 p.m.
March 27 Abilene, St. Vincent Pallotti, 7:00 p.m.
April 3 Abilene, Holy Family, 7:00 p.m.
April 9 Abilene, St. Francis, 7:00 p.m.
April 14 Abilene, Sacred Heart, 7:00 p.m.
Aprill 16 Colorado City, St. Ann, at 6:30 pm.
March 11 Midland, San Miguel Arcangel, 7 p.m.
March 19 Big Spring, Holy Trinity, 7 p.m.
March 31 St. Lawrence, 7 p.m.
April 2 Midland, Our Lady-Guadalupe, 7 p.m.
April 7 Odessa, St. Mary, 7 p.m.
April 9 Fort Stockton, St. Agnes, 6:30 p.m.
April 10 Andrews, Our Lady of Lourdes, 6 p.m.
April 14 Odessa, Holy Redeemer, 7 p.m.
April 15 Midland, St. Ann’s, 7 p.m.
April 16 Odessa, St. Joseph
Prayer for Priests
By St. John Vianney
God, please give to your Church today
many more priests after your own heart.
May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance;
be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness;
tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God;
zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.
May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist
and to Mary his Mother
be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry.
March 24 Wall St. Ambrose - at 7:30 p.m.
March 26 Brady, St. Patrick - at 6:30 p.m.
March 26 Sonora, St. Ann - 6:30 pm.
March 31 Eden,St. Charles - 6:30 p.m.
April 2 San Angelo, St. Margaret - at 7:00 p.m.
April 7 Rowena, St. Joseph - at 7:00 p.m,.
April 8 Big Lake, St. Margaret - at 6:30 p.m.
April 9 Ozona, O.L. Perp. Hel; - at 6:30 p.m.
April 10 San Angelo, St. .Joseph - at 6:30 p.m.
April 14 Ballinger, St. Mary - at
April 15 San Angelo, Sacred Heart Cathedral - at 700 p.m.
The coat of arms of the Most Rev. Michael J. Sis, sixth Bishop of San Angelo, features a basket containing five loaves of bread, with two fish, one above and one below the basket. Rooted in ancient Christian iconography, it recalls the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the only miracle story recorded in all four Gospels.
Just as he did on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus continues to take our seemingly insufficient resources, miraculously multiplies them through the power of his grace, and utilizes them to meet the spiritual and material needs of his people.
The gold Cross above the shield is the Celtic Cross, which has a ring surrounding the intersection. The circle is a symbol of eternity, since Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. It illustrates the endlessness of God's love poured out in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. The five gems represent the five wounds of Christ.
For his motto, Bishop Sis has selected the phrase "DEI SUMUS ADIUTORES." This Latin phrase, from Saint Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (I Cor. 3:9), is translated in English as "We are God's co-workers" and in Spanish as "Somos colaboradores de Dios." It expresses the profound biblical truth that God calls us to cooperate with him in his action in the world.
Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity, but in his great mercy he freely chooses to involve human beings as his subordinate helpers. Christ is at work in us through the power of his Holy Spirit. By the overflowing grace of Jesus Christ, members of the Church are given the privilege of cooperating in his work in a variety of ways. These include, for example, the celebration of the sacraments, responsible stewardship, acts of justice and charity to serve our neighbor in need, the vocation of parenthood, the intercession of the saints, and the mission of evangelization. In so many wonderful ways, we are God's co-workers.
SAN ANGELO — Continued frozen precipitation and hazardous driving conditions in San Angelo have necessitated the announcement of an all-day closure of the diocesan Pastoral Center today, Tuesday, February 11. The presbyteral council meeting, originally scheduled for 11 a.m., is postponed until further notice. -- Bishop Michael J. Sis, Diocese of San Angelo
Holy Angels Church in San Angelo has cancelled tonight's RCIA classes.
Sent by Jimmy Patterson, Communications, Diocese of San Angelo
SAN ANGELO — Icy conditions Tuesday morning have prompted the closure of the Diocese of San Angelo Pastoral Center, 804 Ford St., in San Angelo. A determination will be made later this morning as to whether the office will open this afternoon or remain closed until tomorrow.
The inclement weather has also forced the postponement of today's scheduled presbyteral council meeting, which had been scheduled for 11 a.m. in SCouncil members will be advised later when the meeting will be rescheduled.
11 — San Angelo, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Presbyteral Council Meeting at 11:00 a.m.
12 — Lunch with Planning Committee for Bishop Sis’ Ordination at 12:00 noon
13 — San Angelo, Holy Angels – San Angelo Deanery Meeting at 10:00 a.m.
15 — San Angelo – Lunch with Sisters of the Diocese at 11:30 a.m.
16 — Midland, St. Ann – Mass at 10:45 a.m.
18 — Odessa, St. Mary – 25th Anniversary Mass of Father Santiago Udayar at 6:30 p.m.
19 — San Angelo, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Pro Life Meeting at 10:00 a.m.
20 — San Angelo, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Personnel Board Meeting at 11:00 a.m.
25 — San Angelo, Holy Angels – Presentation to the RCIA at 6:30 p.m
Penance Services in the Dicoese of San Angelo:
March 19 Brownwood, St. Mary - at 7:00 p.m,
March 26 Coleman, Sacred Heart - at 6:30 p.m.
March 27 Abilene, St. Vincent Pallotti - at 7:00 p.m.
April 3 Abilene, Holy Family - at 7:00 p.m.
April 9 Abilene, St. Francis - at 7:00 p.m.
April 14 Abilene, Sacred Heart - 7:00 p.m.
Aprill 16 Colorado City, St. Ann - at 6:30 pm.
SAN ANGELO DEANERY:
March 11 Menard, Sacred Heart -at 6:00 p.m,
March 12 Junction, St. Therese - at 6:00 pm.
March 26 San Angelo, St. Margaret - at 7:00 p.m.
March 27 San Angelo, St. Joseph - at 7:00p.m.
April 2 Big Lake, St. Margaret - at
April 9 Wall, St. Ambrose - at 7:00 p.m.
April 15 San Angelo, Sacred Heart Cathedral - at 7:00 p.m.
April 16 Rowena, St. Joseph - at 6:30 p.m.
MIDLAND-ODESSA DEANERY DATES TO COME ...