Happy Lent 2021, dear friends of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton!
As you may have heard or read about the latest update from our Bishop that, due to the current decline of COVID-19 infection cases, we are allowed to be back in church for the Holy Mass, all other Sacraments and devotions up to 25% of our church’s capacity. The guidance has not changed for other faith formation programs, prayer groups, bible studies and other ministries. Please also note that all the safety protocols still remain in place.
And now…Welcome to the Season of Lent 2021! It’s been almost a year since our first shutdown as we learned together how to livestream the Holy Mass and Adoration from home! I know we are praying for a COVID-free year and a COVID-free world. Yet we know there are still a lot of people who are affected by the pandemic with illness, separation, fear, joblessness, homelessness, and even death, etc. Although vaccination has been done for many, the COVID effects are still far from over. All the more reason for us to emphasize the importance of our prayer life and of our on-going outreach efforts toward those who are most in need among us. In our individualistic society and culture, the pandemic reminds us of how fragile our lives can be, and the need for us to always depend on God and one another. In fact, that is the beauty of our Catholic faith, and the call for each one of us to participate in the life of our faith family and beyond. The Lenten disciplines of PRAYER, FASTING and ALMSGIVING will definitely help each one of us grow closer to God, experience God’s purification of our hearts, and transformation of our souls, build an intimate relationship with the Lord and others, and prepare for a “springtime harvest of spiritual fruits” in our life and journey together. After working and discerning this journey with our parish leaders, therefore, I would like to offer you the following opportunities for us in the next Forty Days of Lent.
Prayer and worship. Starting on Saturday, February 27th (within the First Week of Lent), we will joyfully add one more Holy Mass onto our current schedule to make sure we celebrate mass everyday as a faith community–that is, a new weekly 8:30 am Saturday Morning mass, preceded by prayers of the Rosary and Marian Devotions. Thus, please encourage/remind one another to join us in attending this new mass in person or online. In addition, we will reinforce our current weekly devotions by sharing with you our specific intentions we offer for each day of the week. A Guide to Daily Devotion booklet will be printed and given as a gift to our parishioners who wish to participate in our daily prayer. So please keep your own copy of the prayer book for safety concerns. Please note that the prayers will be offered mostly before, during or after Mass/Adoration very day of the week.
Fasting. This discipline encourages us to overcome temptations, to use moderately the blessings given to us, and even to make sacrifices for the love for God and others. After all, fasting may take many forms and for sure will help us purify our hearts, refresh our souls, and reach out to others in God’s name. I leave it up to you as you make your personal commitment with the Lord in this area. Remember we always give up something in order to achieve something better, greater, holier, and more noble. We fast from something in order to feast on something else that will bring us lasting virtues and ultimately the joy of salvation.
Almsgiving and the Works of Love and Mercy. Please pray over the opportunity for us to participate in various activities and charities such as Operation Rice Bowl (by CRS), 40 Days for Life, St. Vincent de Paul Donations, the Solidarity Cross fundraiser, Pastoral Services Appeal, Collections for missionary churches, and supports of Holy Land. In particular, we are also very blessed to have the opportunity to support many Parish communities in our Diocese to somehow help them carry the cross of dire needs to survive during this pandemic. During Lent, I will elaborate and explain everything about this transparent and collaborative process, so that the entire SEAS Parish Family will give thanks to God and do good works together.
May God bless each one of you and your family on our Lenten Journey together.
Peace and blessings,
Fr. Paul Trinh