Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happenings at Assumption Grotto this week

This first announcement deals with something taking place next week, but I would like to bring it up now. Before we get into talk about the season of Lent, I would like to point out something special coming up, as noted in the Grotto bulletin this weekend:

We invite you to join us here at Assumption Grotto as we celebrate with the church the 150th Anniversary of Lourdes during the 7pm Evening Mass on February 11. Rosary and prayers to gain the Special Lourdes Jubilee Indulgence will follow.

See this flyer via the Grotto website for more information.

Assumption Grotto is in the middle of a Lourdes Novena which is prayed after all the Masses.

Tomorrow begins lent with Ash Wednesday. Assumption Grotto has the usual weekday Mass lineup: 7:30am, 8:30am, and 7:00pm. A Noon Mass has also been added. The 7:00pm Mass usually features the choir and has a decent turnout, even though Mass, and even the receiving of ashes - a sacramental - is not required.

Just because the Church doesn't mandate something, doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to take full advantage of the graces we can get through Mass and imposition of ashes.

Also, don't forget that it is a day of fasting and abstinence. For more resources on Lent, check out this old post at the blog of apologist, Jimmy Akin. You can also check out the front page of the Assumption Grotto website for guidelines. Fr. Perrone's weekly Descant was also focused on lent how we might approach making sacrifices. One thing our parish has helped me to appreciate, is that there is value in mortification and sacrifice. It's like prayer, and it is good for the soul too. I have copied Father's words below other announcements for the week.

FAT TUESDAY - Paczki Day
Some places celebrate, "Mardi Gras" on the day before Ash Wednesday. Here in metro Detroit, we celebrate Fat Tuesday, or more commonly called, Paczki Day. It is a day of feasting on Paczki's (pronounced, "Poonshkees") before a season of penance begins. It is a polish jelly-filled donut that is probably 200 million calories, 500 million carbs, with about 600 million grams of fat. But oh, sooooooooooo good. You can literally feel it sticking to your veins as you eat. It's pure heart-attack special pastry.

Fat Tuesday Cotillion at Assumption Grotto
I have not yet made it to a Winter Cotillion at Assumption Grotto yet. I may not make it this year either and I was going to head up there just to take a few shots. It is celebrated on Fat Tuesday and steps back in time with people all decked out in.....very old clothes. It's as if you stepped back into previous centuries, complete with music, food, and dancing. There are women in big poofy, long skirts, and men in quaint suits. From the Grotto website:

Fifth Annual Winter Cotillion - Fat Tuesday, February 5th, in the gym.

Music , traditional reels, old dance tunes of the Colonies and line dances from the late 1700’s to mid 1800’s. Refreshments 6:30 p.m., dancing commences at 7:00 p.m. with the Grand March. Tickets $8.00 available in advance or at the door.

Bring your favorite Hors D’Oeuvre or finger food and Pazki to pass. Beverages will be provided. For tickets or information, call Mary McGuckin at (248) 850-8281 or at the Gift Shop from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Here is Fr. Perrone speaking, in part, on Lent:

It all happens this week: the feast and the famine, Shrove (or ‘Fat’) Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. But first, to conserve a right chronology, I’ll begin with today’s feast of Saint Blaise whence an old tradition of the Church originates, the blessing of throats. While the Church is generous in the variety of blessings she offers the faithful, yet this one, for some reason, has special affection for Catholics. Catholic Europe has a number of local saints whose miracles are commemorated in their respective localities. The Saint Blaise Blessing is exceptional in being observed by the universal Church. The custom originates, we are told, on account of someone once having been saved, through the invocation of Saint Blaise, from choking to death on a fishbone that had been lodged in his throat. Thus, following a venerable custom, we will bless throats of the people who come to the Communion railing after all Masses today, Sunday. One should be mindful that this blessing is not only an aid to good health but is also a sacramental of the Church which confers spiritual benefits. Thus the prayer which the priest says in conferring the blessing asks that God deliver from the individual, through the intercession of the Saint, “all evil of the throat and every other evil.” This is a reminder that the saints in glory can and do help us contend against the enemies of our eternal welfare. You should also note that the degree of faith and devotion that you bring upon receiving this blessing will determine the degree of spiritual benefit given to you through it.

Now about this Wednesday (omitting commentary about Tuesday since I don’t think you need any encouragement to feast yourselves, moderately, on Fat Tuesday) I need to remind you about your Lenten obligations. Wednesday is a day of both fast and abstinence. Translation: abstinence means not eating flesh meats. I quote here canon law 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat..is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on [Good] Friday...” As you can see, all Fridays are supposed to be meatless. Since Lent is the penitential season of the Church, the law of abstinence binds one more strictly and thus the penalty for non-observance would be more severe. Abstinence from meat binds everyone from age 14 (there is no limit on the other end), but surely even younger children may be encouraged to do penance (they are often more capable of doing penances than some adults may realize). Fasting means limiting the amount of meatless food taken. It binds those from ages 21 through 59. Fasting may certainly also be freely embraced by those outside these age limits. The rule of fasting is to take only one full meal a day. It also permits, if needed for strength (e.g. for those working), the taking of a little something at one or even two other times during the day. This last requirement should not however be viewed as ‘snacking’ but as a need when fasting might cause a hardship.

There are many other things one might decide to do for Lent besides the bare bones minimum required by the Church. I always like to encourage the traditional fast of the Church which means taking only one meal everyday during Lent (aside from Sundays) and without any snacks. One might also want to check the kind of food one eats, avoiding delicacies and sweets, as an indication of penance. While these external practices themselves are not the purpose of Lent and while the interior penitential spirit is the essential thing, one should not on that account regard bodily penances too lightly. We have become, in my view, far too self-indulgent and neglectful in our observances. Religions of all kinds (whether for Jews, Moslems, Hindus, or for Christians) have always been concerned to some degree with dietary matters. (Even new age enthusiasts impose restrictions, though fatuously (for the unaware: ‘fatuous’ has nothing to do with being fat; it means ‘silly’). Catholic Christians, following the admonition and example of St. Paul, should wish to chastise their bodies so as to bring them into submission to their wills rather than to their passions.

A final note. Our Canons of the Holy Cross are offering a Lenten extra for you this coming week. They are holding a Lenten ‘mission’ this Thursday and Friday in the evening at 7:00 p.m. (with special talks and Mass), and on Saturday at the 4:00 p.m. Mass and on Sunday for all Masses at the homily time. Our Fathers of the Holy Cross are doing this for you as a spiritual gift. You should not refuse their generosity nor deny yourself some of their spiritual food for your starving souls.

Fr. Perrone

Of course, all parishioners and non-parishioners are welcome to the Mission. I'm convinced that Assumption Grotto is the confessional capital of southeast Michigan, with the finest of confessors. Note, that if you do come to the Mission, confessions will be heard each of the four days during the Mission.

It starts at 6:30pm Thursday in the Church, with Rosary and Confessions. Confessions will then be heard at the starting time Friday of 6:00, followed by Stations of the Cross at 6:30pm. Both evenings run until around 9:00/9:30 and are packed with everything from prayers to conferences and even Exposition and Benediction. Saturday, Confession will be available at 2:30 - the standard time for Saturdays, followed by Exposition at 3:00, Mass at 4:00 and the conference starting at 5:15. It all concludes Sunday with a Conference starting at 2:00, more Exposition and final Benediction just after 5:00pm. On Sunday, Confessions are always heard before the Masses, and sometimes after when there are large crowds.

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