A positive item this week was the repair of the bells system at St. Benedict. Evidently some kind of critter that had been in the bell tower area had chewed through the wires, based on how cleanly they had been cut. Anyway, for now so that our neighbors will begin to be re-accustomed to hearing the bells, we have them set to ring at the top of the hour between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and for a minute before the 5:00 p.m. Mass on Saturday and before the 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. After a while I plan to add the Angelus bells at Noon and at 6:00 p.m., a minute of bells before the 8:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday and an occasional hymn during the afternoon since there is a whole selection of hymns that can be played on the carillon setting.
A few notes about upcoming Lenten activities.
In addition to the Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays at Sts. Peter & Paul in Lore City at 6:00 p.m., we will plan to pray them at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays at St. Benedict. Since we are not yet at the point of being able to plan a Lenten Reconciliation Service this year, we will plan to expand the times for confessions during Lent, starting at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. on most Sundays in Lore City and another evening of the week in March (TBA!).
We are planning to have 3 Masses open to the public (and another Mass for the School) for Ash Wednesday, at 8:35 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at St. Benedict and at 7:00 p.m. at Sts. Peter & Paul.
One thing that will be 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 (right?!), 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.
I still haven’t figured out how we can include sackcloth in this year’s Lenten observance, too, but maybe some creative ideas will emerge!
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!