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Newsletter

 

IRISH DOMINICAN PARISH NEWSLETTER

FEBRUARY 2018

 

 

Ash Wednesday this year is on 14th February and is one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer and takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person's forehead, he speaks the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, "Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year's Palm Sunday Mass.

It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.

It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

Recently, movements have developed that involve pastors distributing ashes to passersby in public places. This isn't considered taboo, but Catholics should still receive ashes within the context of Mass.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

 

Why we receive the ashes

Following the example of the Ninevites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and

reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told, “Remember Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return."

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins -- just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days' penance and sacramental absolution. Later all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

 

The Ashes

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. While the ashes symbolize 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.

 

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What Should I Do For Lent? Pope Francis' 10 Tips

Every year Catholics try to answer the age old question: What should I do for Lent? Well, who better to pick for as your Lenten spiritual director than Pope Francis? He has some great ideas for you! 

Here are 10 of his best tips:

1.  Get rid of the lazy addiction to evil

“[Lent] is a ‘powerful’ season, a turning point that can foster change and conversion in each of us. We all need to improve, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus we leave behind old habits and the lazy addiction to the evil that deceives and ensnares us.” – General Audience, March 5, 2014

2.  Do something that hurts

“Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” – Lenten Message, 2014

 3.  Don’t remain indifferent

“Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation.” –Lenten Message, 2015

4.  Pray: Make our hearts like yours!

“During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.” – Lenten Message, 2015

5.  Take part in the sacraments

“Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ.” – Lenten Message, 2015

 6.  Prayer

“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste his tenderness. Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged, more assiduous, more able to take on the needs of the brethren; intercessory prayer, to intercede before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering.” – Homily, March 5, 2014

7.  Fasting

“We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth ‘satisfies’ us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who

bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him.” – Homily, March 5, 2014

"Fasting makes sense if it questions our security..." - Pope Francis

8.  Almsgiving

“Today gratuitousness is often not part of daily life where everything is bought and sold. Everything is calculated and measured. Almsgiving helps us to experience giving freely, which leads to freedom from the obsession

of possessing, from the fear of losing what we have, from the sadness of one who does not wish to share his wealth with others.” – Homily, March 5, 2014.

 9.  Help the Poor

“In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.” – Lenten Message, 2014

10.  Evangelize

“The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness.” – Lenten Message, 2014

You probably won’t be able to take huge steps forward in all of these areas. Instead, pick a couple that stand out to you and try to find practical ways to grow in your love of God and your love of your neighbour.

 

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The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter celebrated on February 22 is unique because it mentions a chair.  The usual meaning for a chair is a piece of furniture with four legs and a back for a person to sit.  This feast is not about a second-class relic, a chair that St. Peter sat upon, or any other chair.

Another meaning for “chair” is the head of a group, such as at a school, the chair of the English Department.  Peter was the chair of the apostles, the head of the Twelve, and as they accompanied Jesus, he was the first on the list and usually spoke on their behalf.

Jesus appointed Peter as “chair.”  Jesus changed his name, which was Simon, to a new name, Peter (Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14), which means “rock.” 

Jesus installed Peter as chair when he declared, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:18).  Jesus wanted Peter to be a firm foundation, a

solid, unshakable footing.  As chair, Jesus desired that Peter would be strong but not heavy-handed or dictatorial.  He commissioned Peter as a servant leader, a shepherd, a chair who would feed his lambs and tend his sheep (see Jn 21:15-17).  Jesus conferred upon Peter the authority that he would need to serve as chair when he said, “I will give you the keys,” and added, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Mt 16:19).

The chair of an organization provides the vision, sets the direction, guides the process, and unifies the group, and Peter did all these, not only for the Early Church but for every generation to follow.  The vision is to acknowledge the true identity of Jesus, something Peter did when he made his confession of faith, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).

In the process of following Jesus, particularly when life is turbulent, it is essential to place one’s total trust in him and keep one’s eyes fixed on him at all times, something Peter failed to do when he walked on the water, became frightened, looked away, and began to sink (Mt 14:30).  In desperation, Peter wisely cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus saved Peter that day from drowning.   On Good Friday, Jesus saved Peter from his sins.  Peter personally experienced Jesus as his Saviour and Redeemer.  As chair, Peter would teach that Jesus is our salvation, and that all who accept Jesus and follow his teaching will receive the gift of eternal salvation.  His teaching is given in the first portion of the Acts of the Apostles as well as the First and Second Letters of Peter, and his instruction in Christian discipleship helped believers to hold fast to their faith, charted the path for the Church, unified it, and brought about much peace.

The chair, then, is a symbol of Peter’s office as the principal leader of the Church and teacher of the faith, and the full authority that had been given to him to serve in this capacity.

The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter was instituted in Rome during the Fourth Century, not only to honour the first leader of the Church of Rome, but also to displace a pagan celebration known as the Parentalia.  It was customary for Romans to set aside a number of days in mid to late February to remember deceased family members, especially their parents.  An empty chair would be set out to commemorate the person who had once occupied it.  Then on February 22, another pagan festival followed, the Charistia, which honoured the surviving relatives.  The Chair of St. Peter offered a Christian alternative to the pagan festivities.

 

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Spring and the great reveal!

Winter is now in full retreat,

those darkest days of rain and sleet,

the clouds will part, as if cut by knife,

the sun warms the earth to beckon life.

I throw back the curtains in every room,

to let in the rays and light the gloom,

but then as I blink and my eyes adjust,

I recoil with horror at all that dust!

Spring cleaning is a chore I hate,

but it must be done now, it can't be late,

I mop and dust and polish with wax,

I can't sit in the sun, no time to relax

Now to the kitchen, where I cater,

to remove the dust from the radiator,

down the side of the oven, a treasure trove,

a forgotten chip and a garlic clove

Every room is brought up to muster,

thanks to me and my big yellow duster,

my muscles ache, my energy's sapped,

my face is aglow, my hands are chapped

I think I've finished, but no, wait,

I glance outside beyond the garden gate,

a rusty barbecue, and a lawn full of weeds,

a fence that needs painting, and sprouting seeds

Forgive me if I don't welcome this season,

the work it brings is beyond all reason,

I prefer the winter, the storms and the ice,

curled up with a film and some chocolate that's nice!

 

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Date for your diary.....

 

The annual Parish Pilgrimage to Fatima will take place Saturday & Sunday19th/20th May.

Details to follow.....!

 

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Stations of the Cross

Every Friday at 6.00pm during Lent the Stations of the Cross will be made in St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre Rua do Murtal.

All welcome!

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Ash Wednesday

St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre – Mass and the distribution of Ashes 10.30am

N.S. Navegantes – Mass and the distribution of Ashes 7.00pm.

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“There is no single definition of holiness: there are dozens, hundreds. But there is one I am particularly fond of; being holy means getting up immediately every time you fall, with humility and joy. It doesn’t mean never falling into sin. It means being able to say, ‘Yes, Lord, I have fallen a thousand times. But thanks to you I have got up again a thousand and one times.’ That’s all. I like thinking about that.”

Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop and Theologian