Ash Wednesday this year also happens to be St. Valentine’s Day. Most of us associate Valentine’s Day with hearts, flowers, chocolates, cards and for some a date night. We express our love for others in many differing ways and sometimes miss the mark even though our intentions are sincere. Saint John in his Gospel tells us that God is Love, and they who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Christ Jesus born in the stable in Bethlehem and placed in the wooden manger on Christmas Day is now journeying up to Jerusalem to give His life on the wood of the cross for our Redemption/Salvation. Out of pure love for all, he gives His life as a sacrificial offering for all humanity.

Out of true love, he reveals the Father’s will, and in obedience does the will of His and Our Father in Heaven. No chocolates, no flowers, no other heart of love except His Sacred Heart for all is His gift to all. On Ash Wednesday we as individuals and as a church begin our Lenten journey of roughly Forty Days and Forty Nights. We are marked with ashes of burnt palm on our foreheads with words encouraging us to be repentant or to remember our mortality. Our fasting, our abstaining from meats on Fridays, our extra spiritual practices, our Parish Mission, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our charity and other good works have as a goal/intention to assist us on this Lenten journey to Easter and the renewal of our Baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil or Sunday Masses. The renewal of Baptismal promises brings us Divine Graces/Blessings to celebrate Easter Joy.

Our Ash Wednesday schedule offers parishioners various times to participate at Mass or in the afternoon with a simple Service of Word & Ashes at 4 p.m. after school is out. On Wednesday evenings during Lent once again throughout the Archdiocese, all churches will be offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) as well as their regular scheduled times. At Saint Mary a priest will be available in our Reconciliation Room from 6:00–7:30p.m. every Wednesday (except Ash Wednesday). May this Lent be a Blessing for our parish and parishioners as we welcome our new Administrator and prepare to celebrate Easter Joy.