The season of Lent, with its penitential practices and self-denial, may not strike us as a season of hope. But it really is a season filled with hope. These forty days point us and prepare us to share in Jesus’ victory over death and sin. The chance to share in his victory is the reason for our hope.
St. Peter puts it this way: “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) Jesus’ victory is our victory, and all our hope comes from that.
What areas of your life most need a new dose of hope? What areas most need a reminder that in Christ there is a sure and certain victory?
During these weeks of Lent, Fr. Erik and Fr. Michael will lead us through the Sunday readings to help prepare us to receive this gift of hope from the Lord. The Church teaches us that the very announcement of these things in which we hope makes things happen and is life-changing. So, get ready for a Lenten season filled with hope!
Click here for a special Lenten Booklet.
“In the Eucharist is all the power that created the universe and all the love that redeemed it,” William Cardinal O’Connell. Join us for daily Mass and receive the Lord’s power and love in your life to help you meet the challenges and trials of each day. The Mass readings are specially chosen to help draw us more deeply into Lent. Please join us!
At Mass the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus. We feed on this gift at Mass, but we also adore his Real Presence in Eucharistic Adoration. Adoration takes place at St. John every Friday morning after Mass and continues throughout the day and night until Saturday morning Mass. Come and spend some quiet time in the presence of the Lord – it is a great time of peace, healing and spiritual refreshment.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
We all fall short in loving God and neighbor. Rather than getting used to it, or suffering through the shame or guilt, what if there was a way to start over? What if there was a way to be strengthened so that you could break out of your patterns of sin and live differently? God offers us his mercy to give us that new start.
See the last page for the many opportunities we have to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Remember, no matter how long it has been the priest is ready to help you! Come and meet Christ in the Sacrament of his mercy!
Stations of the Cross (Suspended until further notice)
Join us every Friday of Lent at 2p.m. and 7p.m. in the Church as we pray the Stations of the Cross. Early in the life of the Church it became common for pilgrims to walk in the footsteps of Jesus in Jerusalem, remembering his Passion and Death. Later, Stations of the Cross were added to local churches as an alternative. The Stations commemorate Jesus’ journey to Calvary where he died. Originally prayed outdoors, the Stations of the Cross gradually moved inside churches where they became a familiar feature. Join us for this beautiful Lenten devotion.
Fasting is the voluntary giving up of food, drink, and other material things that expresses our desire to bring a healthy balance back to our relationship with God, ourselves and others. Poor choices in daily life can lead us to become slaves (addicted) to certain material things such as food, drink, television, etc. In fasting, we admit that we are not as free as we would like to be. In fasting, we exercise the gift of our free will (aided by God’s grace) to say ‘no’ to certain things (which are not necessarily bad in themselves) in order to allow us to say ‘yes’ to the Lord and to others.
The Benefits of Fasting
- Fasting awakens the heart to the intimate presence of God in one’s soul.
- Fasting encourages more serious reflection about the priorities in our lives.
- Fasting strengthens our sense of dependence upon God.
- Fasting sharpens our sensitivity to the spiritual dimension of life.
- Fasting strengthens our ability to say ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to sin.
- Fasting develops greater appreciation for the gifts of God, especially food and drink.
- Fasting purifies us, spiritually as well as physically.
Ways to Fast
The season of Lent already comes with some “built-in” fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence, while each Friday of Lent we abstain from eating meat. Remember, though, that meatless Fridays don’t mean we choose lobster instead. Meatless meals on the Fridays of Lent should be simple, sacrificial, and lead us to reach out in generosity to those who are less fortunate through some act of charity.
The classic form of fasting involves giving up of food or drink. As children we may have given up candy during Lent – this classic approach can be as valuable for adults as for children. Any time we exercise our free will in a deliberate way over and above our cravings and desires we gain control over our lives – the same control that is needed to say “yes” to God and “no” to sin.
We can also fast from an entire meal (lunch on the Fridays of Lent for example). The money normally spent on that meal could be placed in the Poor Box at church.
Lenten Norms for Fasting and Abstinence Fasting: Catholics aged 18—59 are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal. Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary but combined they should be less than a full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals. Individuals who are pregnant, nursing, or ill are excused from these norms.
Abstinence from Meat:
Catholics aged 14 and older are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays during the season of Lent.
We can also fast from television, music, or our devices. While not always bad in themselves, these forms of entertainment can so occupy our lives that we have trouble hearing God. In place of television or the phone, we can spend time with those we love or in quiet prayer with God (reading from Scripture, looking at the Sunday Mass readings, etc.) or in service to others.
Remembering that fasting is a form of penance and self-denial, there are many other ways that we can show God our sorrow for our sins: being generous with others, visiting the sick and lonely, feeding the poor, studying Scripture, praying the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary, practicing self-control, and many others.
Almsgiving is not only an offering of money to those in need but an attitude of generosity and a willingness to share in the burdens of others. Almsgiving is closely tied to fasting; whatever we save (money or time) should be offered to the needy.
Here are some ways you can give alms this Lent:
St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry
Each month, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry (located in the Parish Center) distributes between 250 – 350 bags of groceries to our neighbors in need. Volunteers sort donations, pack bags, and assist with monthly food deliveries from the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Check the weekly bulletin for a list of our most needed items. If you are interested in volunteering 1 – 2 hours per month, please contact Kathy Wallace at email@example.com.
Lenten Poor Box Collections
Help support those in need by contributing to our Poor Box during Lent. As the parish receives requests for assistance our St. Vincent de Paul Society is ready to help. Thank you for helping meet the needs of our brothers and sisters!
Casseroles for Our Daily Bread
Catholic Charities’ Our Daily Bread is Maryland’s largest hot meal program, serving more than 250,000 meals to the hungry of Baltimore City each year. Casserole pans and recipes can be picked up in the Gathering Space and are due back to St. John on Sunday, March 29 between 7:15-11:15a.m. Please contact Mike Walsh at 410-703-3132 for more information.
Service at Our Daily Bread
On the second Wednesday and the last Saturday of every month, members of our parish work and serve meals at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore City, from 9a.m. – 1p.m. If you are at least 15 years of age and willing to make a four-hour commitment of your time on either of those days, contact Gary Dinsick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-675-4006.
CRS Rice Bowls
Our Faith Formation students have participated in this Lenten tradition for many years. Sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, Operation Rice Bowl is a daily reminder of the struggles and needs of God’s people around the globe. Children put the rice bowl in a special gathering place inside their homes. Throughout Lent, families make sacrifices by contributing a portion of allowances, dessert or treat money, etc., into the rice bowl. The Faith Formation Office collects these sacrifices the week before Easter. Please contact Ruth Gorski at 410-647-4892 to request a rice bowl for your family.