Viewing entries tagged
Ash Wednesday

Lenten Season Coming

Lenten Season Coming

Dear Parishioners,

Lent begins next week, Wednesday, March 6th. As usual, we have our three Masses we offer on that day. We have Mass at 8:30 AM with our school, a 12:05 PM Mass timed for our folks on a lunch breaks, and we have our 7 PM bilingual Mass for the whole church whether they speak English or Spanish.  And that is the start. There is much happening in which you can participate. Here are the basics:

  • Friday Simple Suppers - these will begin at 5 PM and conclude at 6:30 PM

  • Friday Stations of the Cross - These will begin at 6:30 PM in the church. See schedule in the bulletin

  • Rite of Election- The Archbishop will be with us on the following Satuday, March 9th. This is not a Mass, but a Liturgy of the Word with a rite of special recognition for those who are journeying through the RCIA and desire to become fully initiation Catholics.

  • Small Lenten Groups - see bulletin or office for detail

  • FORMED Lenten Resources - Check out the Lenten online

  • Kiosk - Special books and CD’s have been rotated in with enrichment for Lent

Fast and Feast - This idea for Lent speaks of a creative mix of fasting or abstaining from things that are not good for you or others. Another approach is to add something which will deepen and strengthen your faith.  Here’s some ideas from the author and minister, William Arthur.

Fast from judging others; Fast from hostility;
Feast on the Christ indwelling them. Feast on non-resistance.

Fast from emphasis on differences; Fast from bitterness;
Feast on the unity of all life. Feast on forgiveness.

Fast from apparent darkness; Fast from self-concern;
Feast on the reality of light. Feast on compassion for others.

Fast from thoughts of illness; Fast from discouragement;
Feast on the healing power of God. Feast on hope.

Fast from words that pollute; Fast from suspicion;
Feast on phrases that purify. Feast on truth

Fast from discontent; Fast from idle gossip;
Feast on gratitude. Feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from anger; Fast from unrelenting pressures;
Feast on patience. Feast on unceasing prayer


Fr. William Holtzinger

Much Ado About Ash Wednesday

Dear Parishioners,

Ash Wednesday is coming soon. As such, I believe it timely to make clear an incorrect theological/liturgical statement that was in the Jan.25th bulletin entry entitled, “Treasures From Our Tradition.” In that segment on the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick there was a parenthetical comment that was not accurate. Trying to parallel the Anointing of the Sick with the sacramental of placing ashes on our heads on Ash Wednesday, the article stated, “For the same reason, they [children] do not receive ashes on Ash Wednesday” (Bracket is added by me for clarification of context). Plain and simple, no such rubric exists. Furthermore, there is no good reason that I can think of to reject anyone who comes forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, regardless of age or Christian faith tradition, In fact, the rubric in the Roman Missal for the distribution of ashes clearly states, “…the Priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him….” From the standpoint of the giver of the ashes, good faith should be assumed on the part of the receiver.

It is not generally the practice to offer children the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick who are under the age of reason and have not previously received Reconciliation. This is because the Sacrament of Reconciliation is intimately wrapped within the anointing itself. Placing of ashes on children, however, has no such conditions placed upon it. Furthermore, the placing of ashes is not a sign of communion, as Eucharist is. Children under the age of reason have no need to repent due to their lack of culpability. However, I would never recommend the withdrawal of offering ashes to children or anyone else just as I would never discourage someone from learning the sign of the cross, praying a rosary, or attending Mass. The reception of ashes can be a way to teach our children one of the many sacred traditions of our faith. The reception of ashes is open for the good of the faithful which can help them in their spiritual walk and may very well mark the beginning of repentance of some particular sin in their lives. Repentance is something everyone should learn and practice.

In expectation of a common question about Ash Wednesday, the rubrics found in the Book of Blessings states, "This rite may be celebrated by a priest or deacon who may be assisted by lay ministers in the distribution of the ashes. The blessing of the ashes, however, is reserved to a priest or deacon.” In addition, the help of lay ministers is critical in the offering of ashes to those in nursing homes and other locations where needed.

For the really geeky liturgist, Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but what the 1962 Missal describes as a First Class Ferial Day (derived from the Latin “feria” meaning “free day”) which out ranks any other feasts that may coincide with that date. The current General Instructions to the Roman Missal (GIRM ¶59 §2) does not give a title for this kind of liturgical observation, but its ranking and precedence over other potential memorials or feasts is the same as in the 1962 Missal. Holy Week also has the same liturgical ranking. All the faithful, of course, are highly encouraged to fully participate in all of these profound liturgical celebrations which are special in their uniqueness in the liturgical calendar. If that is totally confusing, check out my brief explanation of the principle of “Progressive Solemnity” at

Finally, some folks have asked in the past about the variations of placing ashes on the faithful. When watching papal Masses on TV, people have noticed that the Holy Father sprinkles ashes on the tops of the heads of those coming to him while we rub the ashes on people’s foreheads in the sign of the cross. The rubrics do not offer any explicit help here. Instead, it is a matter of cultural custom. For example, most English speaking countries have the ashes marked on their foreheads while Spain, Italy, and several Latin American countries sprinkle the dry ashes on the crown of the head. There may be even other local customs that dictate how this ritual is done. The most important thing to remember is the meaning of this ritual. The Directory for Popular Piety may be of great help here:

"The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent. The faithful who come to receive ashes should be assisted in perceiving the implicit internal significance of this act, which disposes them towards conversion and renewed Easter commitment.”

May this coming Ash Wednesday and all of Lent bring you new grace from God to help us all repent of those things that are obstacles to God’s love.


Fr. William Holtzinger

The Joy of Lent

Dear Parishioners,

Blessings to you in this Lenten season. Every year we reach this time when we pay extra attention to our everyday behavior in hopes to change something for the good. On Friday’s we freely choose to refrain from eating meat. Some may also make a special effort to attend daily Mass. You may choose to go to our simple the Stations of the Cross each Friday evening. Others may be part of a faith sharing group

In a way, some find the Lenten season to be dreary. However, I would like to suggest that Lent can be a time for joy. How? This can be done in many ways. One such way is to simplify. Another? Consider slowing down. Here’s more... Choose not to clutter your day with so much activity. Increase your time in prayer. Commit to a time for prayer or reading of the Scriptures. Take time to sit and observe the beauty right outside your house. Make a list of things for which you are thankful, making sure you write one thing on the list each day. Make an extra effort to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How about being mindful of the size of portions of food you eat and consider reducing some portion in solidarity with the poor? These ideas can confront those things that get in our way of true deep joy. You see, we live in a world of abundance, but are often blind to it. If we could only see how God blesses us, we would become even more thankful. Thankfulness is a result of joy.

These are just some ideas for you. If you’d like to ponder on more ideas, I’ve written a list of 101 spiritual acts that has grown well beyond 101. Unfortunately, there is not enough room to list them here, so I've placed them on a separate page for you to peruse. Click here to read them. Not all the ideas therein will connect with every person. In fact, some may seem rather odd. But, let us remember that not everyone is the same.

May this Lent bring you a deep joy like nothing you have ever experienced. May this joy which comes from our Lord enliven your faith and strengthen your hope. May this joy beget a greater sense of thankfulness for all the things God has given us. May we all remember how abundant God’s love is for each one of us!


Fr. William Holtzinger