Today is “Shrove Sunday”, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In the sequence of the Lourdes Apparitions this day is of special significance. It was on “Shrove Sunday”, February 14th, 1858, that Bernadette received her Second Apparition at the Grotto.

With Ash Wednesday this week we begin our Lenten fast for Easter. It is the time of year the Church gives us for a common period of interior renewal. The Forty-day Fast of Lent is inspired by the Forty-day Fasts of the great Old Testament figures Moses and Elijah, who prefigured Christ, and the Forty-day Fast of Our Lord Himself as He did battle with Satan in the desert.

In the early Church the 40-day Lenten Fast was dedicated to the last stages of instruction for the Catechumens judged ready to receive Baptism that Easter. The assembly of the faithful accompanied these Catechumens on their journey to the Baptismal font, hence the origins of the custom of assisting at daily Mass throughout the days of Lent.

On a parallel track, the 40-day Fast was also the prescribed time for those baptized Christians who had fallen into the grievous sin after Baptism to return to the communion of the Church by means of a public penance. Our liturgy of Ash Wednesday comes from the ceremonial imposition of ashes and expulsion from church of the Public Penitents. Over time the taking on of the sign of ashes became a universal devotion of the Christian faithful, and not only a mark given to notorious grievous sinners. All the faithful now acknowledge on Ash Wednesday that we are sinners, in need of continual purification and at risk of falling away. “Let him who stands take heed, lest he fall,” St. Paul warns us. 

Lenten discipline consists of both our personal efforts and our participation in the wider spiritual practices of the Church. Here follow various Lenten regulations and practices, commencing with the schedule of Masses for Ash Wednesday. 

(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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