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Lenten Season

Ash Wednesday

The Bishops of the United States prescribe, as minimal
obligation, that all persons who are fourteen years of age
and older are bound to abstain from eating meat on Ash
Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent. Further, all persons
eighteen years of age and older, up to and including their
fifty-ninth birthday, are bound to fast by limiting
themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and on
Good Friday, while the other two meals on those days are to
be light.

All the faithful are encouraged to participate in Mass and to
receive the Most Holy Eucharist daily, to celebrate
frequently the Sacrament of Penance, to undertake spiritual
readings, especially the study of the Sacred Scriptures, and
to participate in parish Lenten devotions as well as Lenten
education programs.

All are encouraged to participate in Operation Rice Bowl,
which has aided countless hungry persons here in the
archdiocese as well as throughout our nation and the world.
SPECIAL NOTE; Because the Feast of Saint Patrick will be
on a Friday in Lent this year, Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, PA.
has granted a dispensation from the obligation to abstain from
eating meat on Friday, March 17, 2000 for all Catholics in
the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Anyone who wishes to take
advantage of this dispensation is encouraged to perform
some other work of piety or charity.

To Mark the beginning of Lent on Wednesday, March 8, 2000,
ashes will be blessed and distributed.

The HummingBird

Once, long ago,
there was a young boy
who lived in a distant land
called Tandow.
He was a cheerful lad
with not a care in the world.
A special friend had he,
the little blue hummingbird.

Now this little boy didn't have
a lot of great friends,
but the little bird and the
boy were inseparable friends.
The boy loved the little
hummingbird so,
he built him a home.

The bird also loved the boy
and would follow him wherever
he would go.

As time went
by their love grew and grew.
Then one day the young lad
met a pretty young girl in school.
The girl had long blonde hair,
blue eyes,
and a cute little smile.

This was about the time
of the biggest dance of the year.
All the boy could think about
was how he would love
to take the girl to the dance.

He gathered his courage all day
and at the end of school
confronted the girl
and asked her to go with him
to the dance.

Now this young girl was
very popular and felt
she did not want to be seen
with the boy who cared for her so,
but she did not want to hurt
his feelings and so
figured out a way to avoid
saying no or yes.

She told the boy
if he brought her a red rose
she would allow him to escort her
to the dance.

This hurt the little boy
because he knew that in the land
of Tandow there had never been
a red rose,
in fact the only roses
in the land of Tandow were white.

On the way home the boy
kept mumbling to himself
why couldn't she have asked
for a white rose.
There were hundreds of them
in his front yard.

Feeling sorry for himself
the boy didn't even notice
his friend the hummingbird
fluttering above him.

Now the bird loved him so,
that it could tell instantly
the boy was troubled.
The bird hovered closer
as the boy mumbled on home.
Now the bird knew why
the boy was so troubled.

The bird could not rest
all the night long,
it pondered all night,
a solution to the boy's problem.
Finally as the sun began to rise
the answer to how the bird
could help his best friend
entered his mind.

The little blue hummingbird
flew to a rose bush
and searched for a large rose
with a stem bearing thorns
directly above it.
Now the bird chose a thorn
and with all the power
in his wings cast his small body
against the sharp thorn.
It entered with great pain,
as the tear drops of blood
fell upon the white petals
of the rose.

Now as the boy
was ready for school,
as he left the house
he saw a red rose,
he could hardly believe it,
he ran to the bush
and plucked the red rose.

In his excitement
he failed to notice
the lifeless little body
that lay below the bush
in a puddle of blood.

Happy as could be,
he began with his red rose
on his way to school.
Before he got there
some other boys playing football
in a field called to him
and asked him to come and play.
His first thought was,
no, he had something
more important to do.
But they begged him and said
they really needed him
to even the teams.

He looked at the rose,
then them,
then back at the rose.
He said to himself.
Awe...She didn't really
want to go with me anyway.
Then, throwing the rose down,
the boy went and played football.

You've probably already figured out the allegory...
1. The boy is each of us.
2. The hummingbird is Jesus Christ.
3. The girl is eternal life.
4. The rose is the atonement.
5. The football game is the worldly things we sometimes feel are so important.

The Christian Sabbath

The Sabbath was the sign of freedom that God had accorded to His people by
delivering them from Egyptian slavery. Over time moral interpretations had transformed
this freedom into a slavery of tradition. Jesus confirms the original freedom. He frees
the man with the paralyzed hand. He frees at the same time the Christian community
from the yoke of Jewish Law.

The time of the Sabbath was a time consecrated to God. This day of the week was
like a tithe of time. By offering to God the tithe of times of their lives, the believers
signify that all time of their lives are consecrated to the Lord. The time consecrated of
the old Sabbath is to be offered now to the Lord of the Sabbath...The rest of Sunday is
to stop our race for profit and comfort. It allows us to celebrate this Covenant whose
memorial is the Sabbath and which is the risen Christ.

The Pharisees thought that the Sabbath was a time consecrated to do nothing.
Jesus reveals that the Sabbath is a time for doing good. If we want, each day, can become
a Christian Sabbath, a "delightful" day filled with the presence of God.

People of all religious backgrounds, and even of none
are hard-pressed to deny the benefits of a day set aside every
week to rest and remember the Lord; a day to lay down the
burden of work and to mull over the deeper questions: Who
am I? What shall I do with my brief moment in this life,
rushing madly seven days a week, even when we play!
threatens untold damage to us and to our children.

Most of us don't recognize any sabbath rule these days,
and it doesn't seem likely that this will change in our life-
times. Who would seriously try to convince any of us to take
twenty-four hours out of every week to do nothing but relax
and worship, to recharge the body and the spirit? Only a
dreamer. And yet...Something is severely wrong with our lives, if everything we have to get done or need, has to be extended to one of our reserved days off and would indicate that we've bitten off more than we can chew...


We should recall that divine law is no mere obstacle course,
designed to weed out those who are not worthy to enter the
kingdom. God's law is an expression of what is good for us.
Thus one may, for example, transcend the sabbath law, Jesus
said, "for the good of the person." (That sort of thinking enraged
the Pharisees, and still enrages some people today.)

One must not, however, ignore divine law. For example,
that we need to take time to rest and remember the Lord was
true two thousand years ago, and will be true two thousand
years from now (if we haven't destroyed ourselved and each
other by then). The price we pay for ignoring that law is a
sad and cramped life, maybe filled with "stuff" and maybe
not, but ultimately filled with terminal fatigue and fear of
losing everything.

"But my days are too full now. When I retire I'll have time
for rest, and prayer, and reflection, and..." Ah, once again,
the golden years...the big lie! And the truth? The poet/sage
Annie Dillard reminds us of the truth: "How we spend our days
is, of course,
how we spend our lives."

Copyright(C)2000, J.S. Paluch Company, Inc.
3825 No. Willow Rd.
Schiller Park, IL 60176
With Ecclesiastical Approbabtion

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