Lent at St. Stephen
Welcome to Lent at St. Stephen! On Ash Wednesday, we begin a 40-day journey of penance in preparation for the Lord's resurrection. Below you will find helpful resources to encourage you to keep a holy Lent this year.
Lenten Guidelines for Fasting and Abstinence
Q. I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?
A. 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.
Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?
A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.
Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I'm not sure what is classified as meat. Does meat include chicken and dairy products?
A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs --- all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.
Forming Our Faith
Fr. Scott Nolan, Brittany Renne (our Coordinator of Religious Education and Youth Ministry), and many dedicated volunteers have been working diligently to offer parishioners many opportunities for spiritual growth and community this Lenten season. You are welcome to participate in one, many, or all of them!
During the Liturgical Season of Lent, all are invited to pray the Stations of the Cross inside the church. This time of prayer allows us to truly understand the meaning of Jesus's Passion and Death.
The Stations will be prayed every Friday during Lent at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of the church.
Below, you will find a few resources to help you pray the Stations - at church or at home - this Lenten season!
Consecration to St. Joseph
What does it mean for a person to be consecrated to St. Joseph? Well, it basically means that you acknowledge that he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. To show it, you entrust yourself entirely into his paternal care so that he can help you acquire his virtues and become holy. Total consecration to St. Joseph means you make a formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God. The person who consecrates himself to St. Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. Saint Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his undivided attention, protection, and guidance.
Lent is a season of penance and preparation. During Lent, we prepare for the Highest Holy Day on our calendar. There is no better way to prepare our hearts for our Risen Lord than to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Lenten season, there are additional opportunities to celebrate the sacrament here at St. Stephen and within our diocese (see below). Click here (2 MB, PDF) for a great how-to guide if you are unsure how to participate in the sacrament.
The Light is ON for You: An Evening of Penance - March 18
We invite you to come and experience the healing love of Christ through the sacrament of reconciliation. On Thursday, March 18, nearly every Catholic church in our diocese (including St. Stephen) will open its doors from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to offer the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests will be readily available to hear confessions during that time.
Once again, Bishop Barron will be offering daily email reflections throughout the season of Lent. Each day from Ash Wednesday through Easter, Bishop Barron will send you a short email with an uplifting reflection pertaining to the daily Gospel reading, uniting us all even more with the Church's sacred liturgy. The best part? It's TOTALLY FREE! Sign up online at www.lentreflections.com and join Bishop Barron and over 300,00 people on this journey through Lent.
Don't give up chocolate for Lent! Instead, take a 40-day journey to become the best version of yourself. Join our parish for Best Lent Ever©, a FREE email program designed to help you have a life-changing Lent. Every day you'll receive inspirational videos, practical tips, and encouraging stories.
Are you ready for your best Lent ever? Sign up now at http://dynamiccatholic.com/bestlentever/
Giving alms or contributing to charity is one of the three pillars of Lenten practice. During this Lent, we have several special opportunities for almsgiving. Special collections are conducted during the Lenten season are listed below.
The Annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) draws together all Catholics in the Diocese of Grand Rapids in a unique way in the service of the Lord. Every financial gift to the CSA helps sustain programs that would not otherwise be possible through one individual or parish. In a time when our world is becoming increasingly secularized, these works of evangelization, charity, and education carry a renewed importance, both in our 11-county diocese and throughout the world. This year, our parish will be participating in an earlier Lenten campaign. We humbly ask that you prayerfully consider your gift to this year's appeal. Thank you, in advance, for your continued generosity!
This Lent, our parish will once again participate in the CRS (Catholic Relief Services) Rice Bowl, a faith-in-action program that will help you experience Lenten spirituality by living in solidarity with the people in need around the world. Use your cardboard CRS Rice Bowl and Lenten Calendar to guide your Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We will be collecting the CRS Rice Bowls at the end of Lent.
The CRS (Catholic Relief Services) Campaign will be held March 13 & 14. The CRS Collection supports Catholic organizations carrying out international relief and solidarity efforts. Programs include relief and resettlement for victims of persecution, war, and natural disasters, development projects to improve living conditions for the poor, legal and support services for poor immigrants, peace and reconciliation work for people suffering from violence, and advocacy on behalf of the powerless.
Please click on the link below if you would like to enroll in electronic giving or update your existing offering.
Once again, we invite the parishioners and guests of St. Stephen to participate in decorating our church with flowers for Easter. If you would like to make a donation toward a beautiful flower plant in memory of loved ones or to honor family and friends, please fill out our Easter Flower Order Form (97 KB, PDF). Your names and all those being honored or memorialized will be printed in the bulletin on Easter Sunday, April 4.