Something very unique for us this year, not only in Lent but also throughout this year of 2021 – but especially for Lent because the Solemnity of St. Joseph is during Lent, on March 19th – is an opportunity for faith formation over the next five Mondays.
Drawing upon a book developed by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, entitled, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, we are planning to have faith sharing gatherings on Mondays, one in the morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Conference Room and another at 6:00 p.m. in the Social Hall (you could choose to attend whichever is more convenient for you), to prepare for a “Consecration to Jesus through St. Joseph.”
The first, introductory gatherings are planned for Monday, February 15th, at either 9:30 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. It also looks like we might have a snowstorm brewing for that day, too! In case of inclement weather, I will post a summary at our parish website and a brief video outlining the process at our parish Facebook page. You could then decide if you would like to participate.
We have ordered 20 copies of the book and as of today (Friday, February 12th) only 5 people have told me specifically that they would like to participate in this. So, we should have enough copies of the book on hand (depending upon delivery of the books, too!) if you would like to simply show up, listen to the introductory presentation and then decide whether or not you would like to participate in the 4 additional gatherings on the subsequent Mondays until March 15th. The final event would be on Friday, March 19th, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Those who would like to make the consecration to Jesus through St. Joseph could do so immediately following either the regular 8:35 a.m. Mass or after a Friday evening Mass on March 19th at 7:00 p.m. at St. Benedict, following the Friday evening Stations of the Cross.
Another thing unique this year is an optional way of receiving ashes. Typically, as you know, we make the sign of the cross on the forehead with the ashes. This reminds us of the moment at Baptism – at the naming of the child – when the sign of the cross is traced on the forehead. Lent and Easter have a focus of renewing the graces of Baptism, which is why that sign is used at the beginning of Lent.
However, another way of expressing repentance with ashes is by sprinkling the ashes into one’s hair on the top of the head! This was a common practice in the Old Testament (see 2 Samuel 13:19 and Isaiah 61:3 for examples). And, in many countries in Europe this is the more common practice on Ash Wednesday. So, to have less person-to-person contact as the pandemic is winding down, the option of having the ashes sprinkled in your hair is available this year! In fact, we will assume that is the form you would like this year unless indicating that you’d prefer the sign of the cross.
May the Lord continue to bless us with joy and peace as disciples of Jesus and to help us to be always ready for the gift of eternal life in Heaven!