In his first Message for Lent since his election as the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis offers some thoughts on the theme “He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9)”. In his Message, the Holy Father hopes “this Lenten season find[s] the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. 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.”
Fast and abstinence
The Church prescribes fasting (only one full meal and two smaller meals which together are not greater than a full meal) and abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Catholics aged 18-59 are bound to fast; those 14 and older to abstinence. Those who are ill are freed from these obligations. Everyone, even those above the age of 59, are encouraged to fast and abstain. Parents and educators are reminded of their duty to introduce children gradually to the understanding and practice of penance.
S.29 of Canada’s liturgical calendar, the Ordo, specifies that Fridays are special days of abstinence. This includes Fridays of Lent, although Catholics can substitute special acts of charity or piety on these days.
Ash Wednesday Mass Schedule
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 5.
Lord, with your loving care guide the penance we have begun. Help us to persevere with love and sincerity. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.