About our Pastor:
Born and raised in Seattle, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen holds degrees in psychology from the University of Washington and a Masters of Divinity and Sacred Baccalaureate from Mundelein Seminary. In addition to serving as pastor to Sacred Heart, he's also chaplain for the Newman Center on the campus of Western Washington University.
Weekly Reflection - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 11, 2018
As we get ready to begin our Lenten season on Wednesday, I thought a few reminders might be helpful. Ash Wednesday, along with Good Friday, is a day of fasting. For those of you who don’t remember, on days of fasting all those in the Church between the ages of 14 and 59 are asked to eat only one main meal and two smaller snack sized meals. The two smaller meals when added together are not supposed to be larger than a normal sized meal. There are limited exceptions, such as if you’re not physically capable of fasting because of an illness, etc. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent are also days in which all Catholics abstain from meat.
Lent is a time traditionally associated with giving things up. This stems from the ancient practice of withdrawing legitimate pleasures from the body in an attempt to both make an offering to God and to eliminate anything that might get in the way of properly honoring our relationship with God. My general recommendation for deciding what to give up, if anything, is difficult but doable. Forty days is a significant period of time, so choose something that you will be capable of living without but also something that will make a difference in your life. Some of my own personal Lenten successes include giving up video games and electronic media. I was surprised how difficult it can be in our modern era to last an entire Lent using only real books.
I would also like to remind people that it is entirely appropriate, and sometimes even more ideal, to add rather than giving something up for Lent. It can be a great time to try out a new style of prayer, a new devotion, or even to start a regular prayer routine if you have never been in the habit before. I have often used the Lenten season as a testing ground for practices I wanted to consider adding to my life, but wasn’t sure I could handle long term. The period of Lent allowed me the opportunity to try them on for size without demanding an unmanageable commitment. The number 40 is a significant one in the biblical tradition because it represents sufficiency and the Lenten period provides a sufficient amount of time to take stock of our lives and see where we are before God. Let this season truly be one of blessing and commitment for you.
Fr. Joseph Altenhofen
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