The Anglo-Saxon word "Lent" originally referred to the "spring season" and came to replace the Latin "quadragesima," meaning "fortieth day," to describe the forty-day fast before Easter. The number 40 is used in Biblical texts to signal a lenghty period of time. So Moses and the Hebrews wandering in the desert for forty years is the biblical way of indicating an extended duration. In the New Testament, Jesus is tempted in the desert where he ate nothing for forty days and forty nights.
A period of forty days of Lent appears to have been a widespread practice by the mid-third century, as is evidenced in the writings of the Church fathers. The actual duration of the fast varied from locale to locale. St. Gregory the Great, writing in the late sixth century, recognized the abstinence from the flesh of meat and everything that comes from such animals, including milk, cheese and eggs. This became known as "lacticinia," which comes from "lac", the Latin for all milk. The practice of giving eggs at Easter originates from the ban on eating eggs during this period.
Both fasting and abstinence are spiritual practices, designed to heighten one's spiritual life and draw a person closer to God. Though most often associated with the avoidance of food, fasting can be the voluntary avoidance of anything we deem good, in order to focus on spiritual matters. Abstinence is the avoidance of certain foods.
Thus, we have begun the holy season of Lent. Please make Mass attendance a priority during the Season of Lent. Remember the Lenten regulations: All must fast on Good Friday if you are between the ages of 18-59, if health permits. All those from 14 years of age upward need to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent, if health permits. Extra acts of penance should be undertaken given one's state in life and health. Let us keep this season holy, becoming more pleasing to the Lord, so that we can celebrate the great Solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection with great joy.
We welcome Abbot Marcel Rooney this weekend. He is here to preach and preside at the weekend Masses.
Use these upcoming weeks wisely regarding your spiritual lives!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
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From its roots in the Old Testament temple worship, the sacred liturgy of the Church has always seen music as an integral part of our worship. This is no more evident than here at the Basilica of St. John. Whether your tastes run from traditional Gregorian Chant, to contemporary worship with our folk group, to our ethnic diversity with the beautiful music from our Vietnamese and Hispanic choirs, to the timeless classics of the bell choir and our outstanding Basilica Choir, we live to "make a joyful noise," at the Basilica of St. John. In the words of St. Augustine, "He who sings, prays twice."
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