Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is this Wednesday, February 18. Unfortunately, due to the condition of the roads in our area as well as of the parking lot at the church, we will NOT be able to hold a service at the church on this day.
Ash Wednesday is one of the two fasting days of the year in our Church, the other being Good Friday (BCP, p. li). Jesus Himself recommended and practiced fasting (Matt. 6:16-18, Lk. 4:2, Matt. 17:21, Mk. 9:29), as did the early Church and faithful Christians in every generation.
The general rule for Lent that has come down to us in our tradition is this: Each day consists of one full meal and two smaller portions of food. Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from flesh meat. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of complete fasting. No food is eaten until sundown. Medical issues and age are reasons to moderate the fast of food.
January 31 is the Feast of St. John Bosco (1815-88), one of the greatest men living in Italy at that time. He was the son of peasants near Turin, and by the time he entered the priesthood, multitudes were moving into cities like Turin as the industrial revolution got going in Italy. The boys and young men of the new slums and tough neighborhoods formed gangs and were in a downward spiral into crime, chaos and exploitation. Don Bosco began to bring them into the church were they could be catechized and taught a trade. How he relates to them is inspiring, and is the subject of a first rate movie called Don Bosco, The True Story of the Apostle of Youth, produced in 1988.
The cover jacket reads “Ben Gazzara stars in this classic film about St. John Bosco, the beloved 19th century Italian priest who sought out the homeless youth of Turin to help them have a better life. He overcame incredible challenges, including the government who wanted him out of the way, an archbishop who tried to silence him, and the revolution that put a price on his head. But nothing could stop Don Bosco from rescuing the poor and outcast children to give them a home, teach them work skills and catechize them in the Catholic faith.
“Don Bosco is the inspiring true story of a brave and holy priest whose single-handed battle to save the children of the streets inspired the formation of the Salesians, which is now a worldwide religious order that carries on his work with youth everywhere. Blessed with tremendous gifts, a creative imagination and a great sense of humor, Bosco had a winning way with youth and was a brilliant educator.
“Having suffered much in his own youth and growing up without a father gave him compassion for the many orphans he cared for, and his profound charity shines through in this film. His deep devotion to and trust in Our Lady was a great source of blessings and strength for his work with youth that continues to this day. Patsy Kensit and Karl Zinny also star with Gazarra, and the film is directed by Leandro Castellani.” The DVS is available at Ignatius Press, 1-800-651-1531.
–Bishop Paul Hewett