Ash Wednesday Feb. 17; Easter April 4

The USCCB’s Lenten web site is at www.usccb.org/lent.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a website at usccb.org/lent designed to help the faithful deepen their relationship with Jesus this Lent.
The Lenten Season home page has a thought for the day with text and audio links for the readings, and video reflections.
In addition to the Pope’s Lenten Message, the site has major sections:
• “What We Believe,” where visitors are invited to discover the beauty of the Catholic faith articulated in the Catechism and the writings of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict VXI.
• “What We Celebrate” explains that Catholics celebrate the Christian mystery through the Mass and the seven sacraments of the Church. Learn more about the sacraments, especially the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation (Confession) during Lent.
• “How We Live” talks about how Christian living means following the teaching and example of Christ, the Ten Commandments, the precepts of the Catholic Church and its principles of moral life. The section discusses Christian morality and the special emphasis on fasting and charity during Lent.
• “How We Pray,” is a section that teaches how, through prayer, we raise our hearts and minds to God in thanksgiving and praise. It also has information about the types of Christian prayer and the special prayers and devotions of Lent.
The USCCB Lenten Season website has several video excerpts, including:
• “The Face,” about the suffering Christ as depicted in the Emmy Award-winning art of Matthias Grünewald”

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year.
Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of complete abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year.

We fast, pray, and give alms during Lent keeping in mind those joining the church
Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has reemphasized the baptismal character of Lent with the restoration of the catechumenate, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
In most Catholic parishes, groups of adults prepare to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil through a process known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are still observed, but are done so with the purpose of recalling our baptism and in solidarity with those preparing to be baptized and received into the Church.
Sister Loretta Beckius, administrative assistant in the diocesan Worship Office, said nearly 400 persons are in the RCIA process this year in the Diocese of Wichita.
Sr. Loretta said early, tentative, reports indicate that 176 catechumens, persons who are unbaptized, and 223 candidates, those who are already baptized, are discerning a call to become Catholics.
Forty parishes are involved in the RCIA process along with 402 sponsors and 172 pastors and RCIA team members.
Rhonda Lohkamp, director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Wichita, said it is significant that the people who come from all the different parishes within our diocese intentionally choose to come to the Cathedral to be welcomed and accepted into the mother church of our diocese.
“It is inspiring to see them, the catechumens and candidates, come forward and be welcomed by the Bishop in the sanctuary of the Cathedral,” she said.
“Having worked with the Rite of Election for many years, I have seen and do see the wonder and astonishment of the catechumens and candidates as they are called to celebrate the reality that they are becoming members of the Church of the Diocese of Wichita. As they are sent forth, I see in them their choice and their commitment to serve their church, their community and the world.”

Pope: fasting strengthens our relationship with Jesus
Catholics begin the 40-day season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, which precedes the celebration of Easter, Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Pope Benedict says fasting strengthens our relationship with Jesus
“We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance,” Pope Benedict XVI says in a Lenten message.
“The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting.”
In the very first pages of the Bible God commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit, Pope Benedict says. “The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting.”
Pope Benedict says fasting is doing the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Matt. 6,18). “Jesus Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4,4).
Although the pope didn’t have the recent natural disasters in mind, he says that fasting helps us understand the situation in which many people of the world live and helps us grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.