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Reflections on Lent…

When does Lent Start?

We celebrate the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday.

Lent is a time of prayer and fasting as we prepare to celebrate Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Church’s biggest celebration in the liturgical year. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return”. It is one of the most ancient phrases of Scripture, coming right out of the early chapters of Genesis. As we are about to be reminded by our tradition, it forms the central theme of what we’re about on Ash Wednesday.

We’re being reminded of our mortality and our need for penitence. But there’s another theme at work deep within this sentence that we might do well to ponder as we enter the period of self-examination and renewal we call Lent. Part of our journey as people of God in this season is about re-energising our spirituality, setting aside time to be with the divine light in our lives and to truly stop for a moment and allow it to do some of its transformational work in us.

To re-emphasise, we need to truly stop, perhaps two of the hardest words to hear in our fast-paced always-in-motion culture today.

On a day like Ash Wednesday, it seems appropriate to pause and take a hard, honest look at what drives us.

Lent is a time for authentic conversion and for coming to know Christ as the bringer of justice. Our journey is towards him. Lent is a time of many blessings; in fasting, in prayer and almsgiving, in self examination, confession, purification and healing, in contrition, conversion and repentance.

Lent then is a wonderful opportunity to know anew and afresh the mystery and grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus. This mystery, kept hidden but now fully revealed in Jesus who is God’s Mercy, God’s Love and God’s Justice.

Let us use this Lent well. Let us experience God’s gift of loving justice in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and celebrate its fruit in Easter Eucharist.

Ash Wednesday

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are blessed with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.

While the ashes symbolise penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

Making the Most of 40 Days

We live lives of tortured complexity. Inside each of us there is both a saint and a sinner. Our hearts are a murky cauldron of grace and sin, angels and demons. Always, it seems, we are torn in a way that leaves us feeling unsure, guilty, and tense. The 40 days of Lent gives us the opportunity, like Jesus, to enter the desert.

To go into the desert means to stare our inner chaos in the face. What demons live inside this chaos? They maybe the demons of bitterness, anger, jealousy, lust, deceit, addiction, hatred, distrust, selfishness etc. All these demons are inside every one of us. To stare them in the face is to enter the desert. A scary thing? Yes, but the scriptures assure us that if we muster the courage to face them, God will send angels to minister to us.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee.

…“I asked that the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy”…

…”For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy.”…

Full Text

A Prayer for Lent (Walter Brueggeman)

Marked by Ashes

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .

This day — a gift from you.

This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.

This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.

This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home

halfway back to committees and memos,

halfway back to calls and appointments,

halfway on to next Sunday,

halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,

half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,

but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —

we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:

of failed hope and broken promises,

of forgotten children and frightened women,

we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;

we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with

some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes

anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —

you Easter parade of newness.

Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,

Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;

Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.

Come here and Easter our Wednesday with

mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Let us seize this opportunity to enter the desert, to trust in the Lord, to overcome our demons.

When Does Lent Start? – Ash Wednesday

February 26, 2020 10:00 am to 10:45 am
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm
8:00 pm to 8:45 pm

We will celebrate the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on 26th February 2020.

Lent is a time of prayer and fasting as we prepare to celebrate Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Church’s biggest celebration in the liturgical year.

Lent is a time for authentic conversion and for coming to know Christ as the bringer of justice. Our journey is towards him.

Lent is a time of many blessings; in fasting, in prayer and almsgiving, in self examination, confession, purification and healing, in contrition, conversion and repentance.

Lent then is a wonderful opportunity to know anew and afresh they mystery and grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus. This mystery, kept hidden but now fully revealed in Jesus who is God’s Mercy, God’s Love and God’s Justice.

Let us use this Lent well.

Let us experience God’s gift of loving justice in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and celebrate its fruit in Easter Eucharist.

Liturgy of the Hours for Lent

What is the Liturgy of the Hours?

The Liturgy of the Hours  is a collection of daily psalms, prayers, and scripture readings that has been part of the Church’s liturgical prayer life almost from it’s very beginnings. It is prayed at morning, midday, evening, night, plus one other “floating hour” that can be done at any time.

You may also have heard other names for the liturgical hours, names derived from Latin. Lauds, Vespers, and Compline are the other names for Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer. Daytime Prayer can be called Terce, Sext, or None, depending on whether it is prayed at Mid-morning, Noon, or Midafternoon.

The psalms and readings of the Divine Office rotate in a four week cycle throughout the year during ordinary time. There are  additional variations for the liturgical seasons and/or feast days.

Although long perceived to be the territory of religious and clergy, the Divine Office is strongly recommended by the Church to lay people.

The Liturgy of the Hours

From Universalis.com

“Seven times a day I praise you.” – Psalm 118(119):164

The Hours help us to pray without ceasing.

Morning Prayer – at the start of the day’s work and the coming of the light.

Daytime Prayer – at mid-morningnoon and in the afternoon, to unite us with the one for whom and through whom we are working.

Evening Prayer – at the end of the day’s work, to offer up what we have done.

Night Prayer – last thing at night, to commend our souls to God.

And finally, there is the magnificent Office of Readings, at whatever time of day is best for us to reflect on the mystery of salvation, with the help of Scripture and the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

“The purpose of the Divine Office is to sanctify the day and all human activity.” – Apostolic Constitution, Canticum Laudis.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the richest single prayer resource of the Christian Church, with prayers, psalms and readings for each of the Hours, changing each day and through the seasons.

But such riches come at a price. With more than a thousand different Hours every year, the books are thick and using them is complex. So complex that it is rare to find anyone reciting the Hours apart from the clergy and religious. Which is not as it should be. This treasure is too marvellous to be the exclusive possession of our servants:

“The Office is… the prayer not only of the clergy but of the whole People of God.” – Apostolic Constitution, Canticum Laudis.

World Day of the Sick 2020 – Pope Francis’ Message

The World Day of the Sick Seminar will take place on Saturday, February 8th from 9.30am to 1.00pm in the Newtown Parish Pastoral Centre, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.

This year’s theme is on Hope in the Face of Suicide.

The World Day of the Sick Mass will take place on Sunday 9th February at 3.00pm in Church of the Guardian Angels, Newtontownpark Avenue, Blackrock.

Read Pope Francis’ message for World Day of the Sick 2020.

Catholic Schools Week

January 26, 2020 to February 2, 2020

“The Catholic school must be a community that witnesses to the power of the Spirit to overcome anxiety and fear and accompany those entrusted to our care on a passage to true hope and peace.” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

“How does school help you to grow? It helps you not only in the development of your intelligence, but by an integral formation of all of the components of your personality. The principle element of education is to learn to be generous.” – Pope Francis

Catholic Schools Week 2020 will take place this year from Sunday 26 January – Sunday 2 February on the theme ‘Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony with God’s Creation’.

During Catholic Schools Week families, parishes and schools, North and South, are invited to participate in a week of celebration of Catholic schools and on their contribution to the common good of our society.

This year’s theme ‘Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony with God’s Creation’, encourages us to see that we all have a responsibility to care for the earth, not just for our own future, but for the future of every one of God’s creatures.

On each of the five school days of CSW2020, there are csw-2020-thoughts-for-each-day resources as well as audio thoughts for each day.

Kate Liffey, National Director for Catechetics with the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, will voice each of the five audio pieces.

She will expand on each of the daily themes for CSW2020 which are:

Daily themes for CSW2020:

Monday: Living in Harmony with God
Tuesday: Living in Harmony with our Neighbours
Wednesday: Living in Harmony with All Generations
Thursday: Living in Harmony with the Earth
Friday: Living in Harmony in our Catholic School

Catholic Schools: Living in Harmony with God’s Creation

Between 2015 and 2017, Trócaire’s Lenten campaigns focused on ‘Climate Change, Climate Justice’. In 2015, Pope Francis’ wrote his encyclical Laudato Si’, which was the basis of Catholic Schools Week in 2017.

This year, we re-echo the messages of that encyclical, but also present the apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit. It highlights key issues in society and gives us a clear direction on what to do. Pope Francis has very clearly delivered the message to Catholic people all over the world: ‘The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change’ (LS, 13). Part of this change is to recognise that we live in this world in harmony with the world and those around us.

If we are conscious of our relationships with God, our neighbours, all generations, the earth and our Catholic school, we can identify the steps it takes to live in harmony. Pope Francis challenges us to look at our lifestyles. We must become aware of the impact our lives have on the lives of others. He asks for justice and equality, as it is clear that the vulnerable all around the world are further impacted by our actions here in the first world. The hope of Catholic Schools Week 2020 is that we realise how powerful each and everyone of us is and that even the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.

New Year Prayer

Heavenly Father, bless my resolutions for the
coming year. May they be in accordance with
your will and direction for my life. Bless my
resolutions and promises. Give me the strength to
carry them through. Fill me with hope, confidence
and positivity.
Lord, remind me of my truest values and deepest
desires. Help me to live in the goodness that
comes from doing what You want me to do.
Help me to put aside anxiety about the future and
regret of the past, so that I might live in peace
with You now, one day at a time. And help me
exercise my faith to bring it all to fruition in 2020.
May my efforts be to sincerely bring many to
know You and to believe in the Lord Jesus, the
way, the truth, and the life. May the lost be found,
the ones living in darkness come to light through
my intercession, outreach, guidance and prayers.
I pray this New Year is blessed with
Your presence in all I do.
Amen.

Feast Day of the Epiphany

Mass for the Feast Day of the Epiphany 5th/6th: The Holy Rosary 6.30pm (Vigil); 10am; 12noon (schools); St. Kilian’s 8pm.

A Secret Code…

The 12 Days Of Christmas may have been in fact a secret teaching tool for Catholics during the 18th and 19th century.

Each item in the 12 Days Of Christmas song may be a metaphor for a bible story.

A theory that has merit but has not been proven.

  • On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree, symbolising God (true love) and Jesus Christ (the partridge).
  • Second day: Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Third day: Three French hens represented the three gifts of faith, hope and love.
  • Fourth day: Calling birds were the four gospels.
  • Fifth day: Five golden rings were the Books of Moses.
  • Sixth day: Geese a-laying stands for the six days of creation.
  • Seventh day: Swans a-swimming were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Eighth day: Maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Ninth day: Ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit such as charity, peace and kindness.
  • Tenth day: Lords a-leaping represent the 10 Commandments.
  • Eleventh day: Pipers piping were the 11 apostles.
  • Twelfth day: Twelve drummers drumming represented the points of the Apostles Creed.

O Come O Come Emmanuel

May the music and images in this short video inspire you and touch your spirit this Christmas.

O Come O Come Emmanuel, performed by ThePianoGuys

(Watch in full screen for more impact)

Blessing for your Crib at Home

Gather with all who live in the house.

The eldest person leads the prayer and the youngest blesses the crib with Holy Water after the blessing is offered:

God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love:

when our need for a Saviour was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.

To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.

Lord, bless all who look upon this crib;
may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus,
and raise up our thoughts to him,
who is God-with-us and Saviour of all,
and who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Amen.

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