Ten weeks from today is Easter Sunday. On this Sunday of Septuagesima we begin the Easter Cycle of the Church’s Year of Grace. Now therefore is the time for us to begin our own personal remote preparations for the penitential season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday falls on March 6th. In order to make a good Lent we ought to have laid out our Lenten program and resolutions ahead of time.

A good Lent is a “Forty Days” attuned to the Church’s well-developed traditions of communal observance. First and foremost is the tradition of attending daily Mass from Ash Wednesday through Easter Week. Even if a person is prevented from physically attending the daily Mass, it is still possible to unite oneself to these Masses by following the Mass readings at home from day to day and joining one’s intention to the Mass of the day, making also a Spiritual Communion.

Second, we ought to avail ourselves of the opportunity to take part in a communal exercise of spiritual renewal. Here at our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes we have our well-established practice of a weekly Lenten mission on Friday nights with Stations of the Cross and a Sermon Series. This year’s Lenten Mission theme is entitled: Lourdes and the World of Second Empire France. Each Friday we will consider the events of Lourdes in their social reality of the France at that time. The Friday Mission will be held over six Fridays, from Friday after Ash Wednesday, March 8th, to Friday in Passion Week, April 12th, from 7:30- 8:30 PM. Please join us and spread the word of invitation to others. 

Third, we ought to be conscientious about observing the laws of fast and abstinence during Lententide. The two tables below list the regulations according to the current discipline of the Church (obligatory) alongside the older, stricter discipline (which may be observed by anyone out of personal devotion):  


Days of Abstinence Days of Abstinence
Begins on one's 14th birthday.
Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.
Obliges abstention from flesh meat.

Days of Penance
Applies to all the Faithful.
Lent and Fridays outside of Lent.

Days of Fast
Everyone aged 18-59.
1 full meal permitted, two other meals may be taken which, when combined, are less than a full meal.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday

(The obligation to do penance is lifted on Fridays which are also celebrated sa a solemnity: e.g., Christmas Day).
Applies on one's 7th birthday.
Complete Abstinence on all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, and the Vigil of Christmas.
Partial Abstinence (meat and soup, or gray made from permitted once a day at principal meal.)
Lent, Ember Days of Wednesday & Saturday, Vigils of Pentecost & Assumption.
Abstinence dispensed on Holy Days of Obligation.

Days of Fast
Everyone aged 21-59.
Days of Lent from Ash Wednesday on, Ember Days, Vigils of Christmas, Pentecost and the Assumption.
One full meal permitted, with 2 smaller meals.

Fourth, we ought to make extra efforts in the area of almsgiving and almsdeeds. At all of the Masses on Ash Wednesday, the Offertory Collection will be for Catholic Charities.

And, finally, fifth, there is the project of our own efforts to grow in our Christian life— “to turn away from sin and receive the Gospel.” Each of us should plan for our own personal sacrifice together with our own personal project during these coming days of Lent. This ought to include sacramental confession, extra time for private prayer and spiritual reading.

Thus a “good Lent” includes both participation in communal Christian observances as members of the Body of Christ and discreet personal efforts to cleanse our souls for the celebration of the Easter feast. 

Fr. Higgins


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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