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CATECHUMENS, PENITENTS, ALL-THE-FAITHFUL

As Latin-rite Roman Catholics we follow the liturgy as it developed in the city of Rome where St. Peter’s Successor the Pope is Bishop. This means that the Lenten Mass liturgies which we inherit owe their peculiar character to the way things were done in Rome through the 4th-6th Centuries.

Daily Mass was not customarily celebrated in the ancient Church. During Lent, however, the Mass was offered almost every day. In the city of Rome, the whole people would gather in a designated church and from there go in procession through the streets to another “station” church where the Pope would offer the Mass.

At first, daily Masses were offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the instruction of the Catechumens enrolled for the Sacraments of Christian Initiation that Easter (those three Sacraments being Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist). Later, Masses were added for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and, finally, Saturdays. These added Masses were largely formulated to the theme of mercy as a result of doing penance (especially the Thursday Masses). They were encouragement to another group of people besides the Catechumens, that is, the “Penitents”—baptized Christians who had fallen into grievous public sin after their Baptism.

Accompanying both groups during these daily Lenten processions and Masses were all-thefaithful. It was a beautiful and moving manifestation of the Christian collectivity. 

Ash Wednesday was originally the day when those bound to do public penance began their ordeal. The First Sunday in Lent was the enrollment of names of those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil.

What spiritual profit we can derive from an understanding of the historical development of our Roman-rite Lenten Mass liturgies. In spirit we can place ourselves variously as Catechumens, Penitents and members of All-the -faithful as we journey through Lent. 

(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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