The season of Lent will began March 6 with Ash Wednesday.
It gives Catholics pause to reflect, pray, sacrifice and work toward the celebration and beauty of Easter.
For Father Joe Forcelle, pastor for St. Leo the Great Parish, Tyndall and St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Springfield, preparation for the Lenten season had been underway for a while as he worked to inspire his parishioners to get the most from the season.
“St. Leo and St. Vincent parishes have been using a number of resources to help people have a spirit-filled Lent,” said Father Forcelle. “Right now we are collecting old blessed palms from the people which will be burned for the ashes we will use on Ash Wednesday.”
In addition, the ashes left over in those parishes will be distributed among area farmers along with a prayer for the blessing of the soil as they prepare for spring planting.
“As in most parishes, we use the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl to collect funds and to educate folks on the needs around the globe and at home,” added Father Forcelle.
Some of those online resources are also used by elementary and high school catechists in those parishes.
Father Forcelle points out his parishioners also pray the Stations of the Cross each week. Parish youth prepare and present a Living Stations of the Cross on the Wednesday of Holy Week.
“I’m confident that the majority of parishes in our diocese would offer some similar resources, opportunities and encouragement to the faithful,” said Father Forcelle.
But the key for him and his congregants is to often challenge them to use what they can to get the most from the Lenten season whether those options are offered by the parish or the faithful find others ways, tools and options to prayerfully ready themselves for Holy Week and the resurrection of the
Lenten regulations for Catholics:
Lent began March 6 with Ash Wednesday.
The Christian faithful are to do penance through prayer and fasting, abstinence and by exercising works of piety and charity.
All Fridays through the year, especially during Lent, are penitential days.
Abstinence: All who have reached their 14th birthday are to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent.
Fasting: All those who are 18 or older, until their 59th birthday, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Only one full meal is allowed on days of fast. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s need; but together, they should not equal another full meal.
Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed.
The obligation does not apply to those whose health or ability to work would be affected seriously.
People in doubt about fast or abstinence should consult their priest.