Lent: Rediscovering baptism through fasting, prayer and almsgiving

February 14, 2012

Lent begins this year on Feb. 22, Ash Wednesday, a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the imposition of ashes on foreheads "symbolizes our dependence upon God's mercy and forgiveness." 
In preparation for these 40 days that will lead us to renew and embrace our baptismal commitment, we offer these ideas for prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent. 

How will you rediscover your baptism this Lent and Easter?

Make plans to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22. Visit the Archdiocesan online Parish Locator, www.archgh.org/Find-A-Parish to locate a nearby parish. The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart will offer the following on Feb. 22: 7 a.m. Mass; 11 a.m. Liturgy of the Word (no Holy Communion); 12:10 p.m. Mass with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo; 5:15 p.m. Mass with Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza; 6:45 p.m. Vietnamese Mass; 8 p.m. Spanish Mass.
In preparation for Ash Wednesday, pray with the readings for the day: Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. And review and ponder all the daily readings during Lent by visiting the U.S. bishops' website, www.usccb.org/bible/readings. 
Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attend daily Mass or a Lenten mission at your nearby parish. Visit www.archgh.org/Find-A-Parish to check schedules of a nearby Catholic Church.

See the box at right for information on guidelines for fasting and abstinence during Lent. 
Participate in the U.S. bishops' "First Fridays for Food Security." On the first Fridays of every month, Catholics are encouraged to eat meals that cost only as much as allotted for a family of their size by the USDA Modified Thrifty Food Plan, which is used as the basis for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps). This voluntary fasting is encouraged to deepen our compassion for and solidarity with neighbors who go without food. 

Participate in Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl, which collects donations to fund food security programs around the world. Collect and contribute to initiatives that bring clean water, agricultural expertise and alleviate hunger for the poor in more than 40 countries. Visit www.orb.crs.org or call 1-866-608-5978 for information. 
Check your parish bulletin for service or other volunteer opportunities. †

Got fish fry?

Does your parish host a fish fry during Lent? Email details to tch@archgh.org and we'll include the information in a round-up of Archdiocesan fish fries in the next Texas Catholic Herald

Guidelines for Lenten observance

  • Lent begins on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Below are the guidelines of Lenten observance for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence.
  • Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence.
  • As outlined on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' website on Lenten fasting and abstinence, fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year.
  • Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of complete abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year.
  • Through our works of prayer, fasting, and abstinence, let us heed the prophet Joel's exhortation to "return to God with our whole heart (2:12)."
  • Lent is a penitential season and as such religious practice such as daily Mass, the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, works of charity and justice, and acts of self-denial are highly encouraged.†