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Lenten services, traditions

Posted By February 16, 2012 | 4:00 pm | Local

Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, marks the beginning of Lent, the Church’s 40-day penitential season in preparation for Easter, April 8.
Bishop McManus will be celebrant with Bishop Reilly and Bishop Rueger as concelebrants at 12:10 p.m. Feb. 22 at Mass and distribution of ashes in St. Paul Cathedral.
Rules for fast and abstinence during Lent:
Catholics 18 years old but not yet 59 and not in poor health must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting means eating only one full meal. They may eat two smaller meals if necessary to maintain strength, but those together must not exceed the one large meal. Eating solid food between meals is not permitted.
Those 14 years of age and older must abstain from meat and items made from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all other Fridays during Lent. Those 14 and older should abstain from eating meat on all Fridays during the year, or substitute some other personal penance.
For the third consecutive year, the Diocese of Worcester will  host an initiative called “Come Home to God’s Mercy,” inviting local Catholics to the sacrament of penance during Lent.
Churches will schedule opportunities for confession on Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. during Lent
If the time conflicts with other scheduled parish programs, the parish priest can make the sacrament available on a different evening in addition to  offering the sacrament at additional times in the parish.
By having a uniform schedule, the diocese can support the initiative with various media promotions. Likewise, people can stop by at any parish on their commute home from work or from other occasions.
The Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Worcester, made up of the priests who serve as deans in each deanery, recommended to Bishop McManus that the program be done again this year.
In approving their recommendation, Bishop McManus noted, “I was heartened by the reports from our priests that there was good attendance each of the past two years for the sacrament on these evenings. Confession is such a powerful expression of God’s love because even when we cannot forgive ourselves, God in his infinite love is always there through the sacrament to forgive us of that sin. That is why we must find new ways to invite Catholics to participate in this sacrament more frequently.”
Also, the diocesan Office for Youth Ministry will hold a Lenten Evening of Reflection from 7 to 10 p.m. March 2 at Immaculate Conception Parish, 335 Grove St., Worcester. Father Nicholas Desimone, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Charlton, is scheduled to speak. The program is open free to youth, young adults, their leaders and the “young at heart.” There will be contemporary music, prayer, eucharistic adoration and fellowship.
Professor J.P. Burns of Assumption College will speak on “Repentance, Reconciliation and Forgiveness: Lessons from St. Augustine,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in La Maison Francaise Salon at the college. For more information contact Sharon Mahoney at 508-767-7223 or