Rev. Robert "Bob" French: 1936-2016

Rev. Robert "Bob" French: 1936-2016

By Fr. Sean Prince

Dear IC parish community,

It is with a heavy heart and immense sadness that I write to you this afternoon. Fr. Bob French, our beloved, retired pastor, died this morning while vacationing on a cruise through Europe with his priest friend Fr. Dan Klem. A native of this region of our Diocese, Bob was ordained in 1963 and dedicated his life to serving the Church and our Diocese. As many of you know, he spent his last fourteen years of active ministry as the pastor of Immaculate Conception until his retirement. But even in retirement, Bob maintained a presence in our community, assisting with Daily Mass, weekend liturgies, and funerals. He loved this community and its work as church. He will be missed by so many. 

On a personal note, what I cherished about Bob was his wisdom of 53 years of priesthood and his willingness to offer me advice--even when I did not ask for it! That was Bob. He helped to guide me as a new pastor and warmly welcomed me to this community. I will miss his presence, our conversations, and too, our continuous banter with one another. I loved to get him laughing, which in turn, got me to laugh.

At this time, we have no information concerning funeral arrangements. It could be several days before we know anything further. However, as details unfold, I will continue to keep the parish informed.

In these days ahead, please keep Fr. Bob French in your prayers. Let us rejoice in his life and the gifts he shared with our community. And let us, too, remember his family, priest friends, and this community in our prayers.

Bob, my friend, may you now rest in peace and live forever in the new life Jesus promised each of us.

Peace, and God bless,
-Fr. Prince

Ordination Anniversaries

On Sunday, May 1st, Fr. Bob French will celebrate his 53rd Anniversary of Ordination. Age and health problems have slowed him down, but he still occasionally helps out in area parishes.

Monsignor Bob Perkins is ordained for 45 years. His time and energy are devoted to reading, exercise, and helping out in parishes as needed. Fr. French regularly advises him on the benefits of short homilies.

Fr. Sean Prince, in comparison, is like the Energizer Bunny. Ordained for 4 years, his youth, vision, and apparently unlimited energy are his gifts to the parish community. Together these priests represent 102 years of pastoral experience and wisdom.

Do you thank them? Of course! Do you pray for them? Certainly, absolutely, regularly, each day, beginning right now! 

Fr. Bob French - 53 Years Ordained

Msgr. Bob Perkins - 45 Years Ordained

Fr. Sean Prince - 4 Years Ordained

Easter Triduum


Easter Triduum

By Steve DeLaney

Asst. Director of Evangelization

At the still point of the turning world.

… Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
— T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"

Our contemporary world is busy, noisy, and ceaseless, and it can be very difficult for us to find time, to make the time, to really experience our faith. To spend time with God, and each other.

The Triduum, the shortest liturgical season of the year, sits at the center of our faith as a profound invitation to experience the love and mercy of God. It is one liturgy, stretched over three days, doing in time what Jesus did with his body – stretching wide over our lives, wide enough so that we can finally experience and trust God’s love.

The Triduum is the central point, the “still point” in the center of our turning world, in the center of the bustle and joys and chaos and griefs of this life. It is one event, one experience, over three days. We need that time, and we need to allow ourselves the gift of that time, so that we can enter deeply into the mystery of the love that saves us. There is wisdom in the duration of this season — three days and lengthy liturgies. It takes time to heal, to grow, and to be transformed. These things cannot be rushed. Against our busy and hurried world, the Triduum invites us into three days of meditation and prayer.

The Foot Washing – Dinah Roe Kendal

The Triduum begins on Holy Thursday. Lent ends with the opening prayers of the Holy Thursday Mass. We celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, and we wash feet, as Jesus did. At the end of Holy Thursday, the Eucharist is removed from the church, and we process out into the Commons for Adoration and Evening Prayer. There are not the usual closing prayers for Mass, as a way of reminding us that the liturgy continues the next day.

On Good Friday, the priest enters and lays prostrate before the cross, in silence. That is how we begin, carrying on with our prayer from the night before. The Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday, though we receive communion reserved from the Holy Thursday Mass. We read the Passion, and we come forward to venerate the Cross. And we leave in silence.

That silence carries us into Saturday evening, the Easter Vigil. The darkness of death is broken by the light of the fire and the Paschal candle. The silence of grief is pierced by the songs of the Resurrection. New members of the body of Christ are baptized and confirmed, and we gather again around the table to receive the bread of life—the promise of resurrection.

The Triduum is the most profound celebration of the mystery of our faith. It is the sacred time that can change how we live in the rest of time. It is, as the Catechism states, the “source of light… [that] fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy.”

We encourage you to, as much as you can, to allow yourself to experience the Triduum this year.

Holy Week at ICC

Palm Sunday - Sun, Mar 20
8:30 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. Mass
5:30 p.m. Vigil Mass (Sat, Mar 19)

Holy Thursday - Thurs, Mar 24
7:00 p.m. Mass

Adoration and Night Prayer to follow immediately

Good Friday - Fri, Mar 25
7:00 p.m. Service

Easter Vigil - Sat, Mar 26
8:00 p.m. Vigil Mass

Easter Sunday - Sun, Mar 27
8:30 a.m. Mass & 11:00 a.m. Mass


Palm Sunday


Palm Sunday

By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

In walking on the Mount of Olives in the Spring of the year, I knew that what I experienced was indeed very different from what Jesus experienced as he rode into Jerusalem on that humble colt. While on my pilgrim trek on this very same hill I found a steep paved road. It is incredibly narrow, even to the point of only allowing one vehicle to travel at a time. The incline calls pilgrims to awareness of each of their steps. Today the road harbors a hand railing embedded in the stone walls on either side of the road. Most days the area is well traveled by both cars and those hearty pilgrims on foot seeking Jesus.  

With very high certainty, this is the path Jesus walked upon in Jerusalem after he was taken away by the guards from the Garden of Gethsemane. (Photo by Greg Thompson, Sep 2015)

This road winds along with Christian Churches dotting the way. One ends this time on the Mount as the Garden of Gethsemane becomes visible along with a busy vehicular intersection. Looking ahead the Dome of the Rock shines in the midday sun not too far ahead in the Old City of Jerusalem.

But what about Jesus, 2000 years ago? No paved road, no hand railings, no churches offering solace. The ground then must have been dry, the air perhaps quite warm and the sand, grit and stones pervasive (as indeed they still are today). Footing so perilous, sliding sandals bringing deliberate and slow steps. Jesus faces torture and death by crucifixion soon. Days of physical pain and mental anguish along with spiritual turmoil lay ahead. He embraced this willingly for us, for each of us. He traveled this slippery hillside toward Jerusalem so he could die and save.

So where is our footing unsure? Where are our doubts and fears? Do we fall on the path due to the stones and pebbles? Is there dirt and grit that lines our heart that keeps the love of Jesus from finding a home? When we step from the steep hillside are we met with the embrace of Jesus who is happy to find us seeking safer paths? He wants us to welcome him into Jerusalem and into our heart anew. In these next few days could we ask God to reveal where those rocks and pebbles are that keep us from being sure of the love of Jesus... 

He is indeed sure… Are we?





By Steve DeLaney, Asst. Director of Evangelization

A few years ago, I heard a missionary priest from the Philippines speak about the poverty in his community. He ended his homily by encouraging us to act to help the poor in a way that helps them believe in the love of God. “Send them a message that God is real!” he exclaimed. I have always remembered those words. One of the privileges of being a Catholic, of being a follower of Jesus, is the opportunity to make God’s love real to others. It is a real privilege.

In his new book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis talks to us about the sacrament of reconciliation: 

“This is a very beautiful thing. It has deep significance because we are social beings. If you are not capable of talking to your brother about your mistakes, you can be sure that you can’t talk about them with God, either, and therefore you end up confessing into the mirror, to yourself.  Confessing to a priest is a way of putting my life into the hands and heart of someone else, someone who in that moment acts in the name of Jesus. It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror.”

It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror.
— Pope Francis, "The Name of God is Mercy"

The profound wisdom behind the sacrament of reconciliation is that it is an opportunity to be real and authentic. It is not easy to sit in front of another person and share with them our sins – our weakness, our failings, our darkness. But the act of doing so is a way of making our sorrow real, of showing our trust that God’s mercy is real. The sacrament of reconciliation does not exist to somehow limit God’s mercy, as a hoop to jump through so that we can be forgiven. God forgives us – but as human beings, we need the opportunities to experience that forgiveness as real, so we are not just staring in the mirror, as the Pope wisely says.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser (who will speak at the Keane Institute in November) writes this statement:

"The Prodigal Son" by Charlie Mackesy

“An honest confession is a non-negotiable step in any healing process. What healing programs have discovered – just when so many of us inside church circles are forgetting it – is that, good as it is, it’s not enough just to be contrite silently in our hearts. Full healing can only take place when we express that contrition not just to God in the secret recesses of the soul, but when we also speak it out, and in detail, to another human being.

We cannot transform our lives by willpower alone, we also need grace and community and both of these, at a point, depend upon the type of transparency that can only come about by honest confession.”

We need to know that forgiveness is real. We need each other. We need the grace that comes to us through a loving community. These needs are not flaws or weaknesses – they are the privileges of the followers of Jesus. We have the opportunity to experience God’s love and mercy made real through other human beings. And we get to share it with each other.

We invite you to share in the sacrament of Reconciliation this Lenten season. The sacrament is offered every Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. A special Taize Penance Service, led by the ICC Choir, will be held this Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. Several area priests will be available.





By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) there are three important times of prayer for our Elect who will be Baptized at the Easter Vigil.  These rites of our Church are called “Scrutinies” and are celebrated at weekend liturgies on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent.  This coincides with the time after our catechumen have been elected by the Church for the Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Here at Immaculate Conception, each of our weekend Liturgies will have one of the Scrutinies celebrated.

Now, in our culture when we hear of being scrutinized and exorcised we may wonder what this means or even turn from it and make haste in another direction.

During the Scrutinies, there are also prayers of Exorcism.  Now, in our culture when we hear of being scrutinized and exorcised we may wonder what this means or even turn from it and make haste in another direction.  There may be negative connotations around these two words.  We may be asking questions like:  Who is being scrutinized?  Why are our Elect being scrutinized?  What does this have to do with me, as I am already Catholic?  And regarding Exorcism, Hollywood may give us a distorted picture which evokes discomfort and even fear.

The grace of new strength is given in this time of their spiritual Journey.

But now here is what the Church tells us of these two prayers of scrutiny and exorcism.  These prayers hope to assist and inspire a desire for purification and redemption by Christ. The progression of these times of reflection and prayer enhance this desire for salvation through the Catholic Church.   The prayers of exorcism frees the Elect from the effects of sin and from the influence of evil.  The grace of new strength is given in this time of their spiritual Journey. 

This time of prayer is not about sinfulness but about the overwhelming grace of God.

For us who are already Catholic, how can we enter more fully into these rites?  As in all Liturgies that celebrate special prayers, perhaps even Sacraments that we are “observers”, we are called and invited to enter fully into this action and prayer of our Church.  So these prayers of Scrutiny and Exorcism are times for us, as well, to allow God to uncover our weakness and sin so that these may be healed and we might be strengthened.  This time of prayer is not about sinfulness but about the overwhelming grace of God.  These Scrutinies with accompanying Exorcisms are indeed focused on our Elect as they prepare to enter the Catholic Church.  However, let us remember that we too journey toward Easter with our eyes fixed on revealing how we grow each day in grace and hope.  These special prayers are meant also for us. 


They (we) open their (our) hearts to you in faith, they(we) confess their (our) faults

And lay bare their (our) hidden wounds.  In your love free them (us) from their (our)

Infirmities, heal their (our) sickness, quench their (our) thirst, and give them (us) peace.

In the power of your name, which we call upon in faith, stand by them (us)

Now and heal them (us).

-Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Prayer of Exorcism [adapted]



41% Engaged

Our Membership Engagement Survey results are in, and Immaculate Conception is 41% engaged! Don’t worry! That’s a good thing! That means we are 11% above the national average for US Catholic parishes, according to Gallup.

You can access the results here, or continue reading below:


Figure 1: Engagement Pyramid

Engagement is defined by Gallup as having members with a strong psychological connection to the parish. They are spiritually committed, invite friends and family to Mass, and give back with time, talent or treasure. Becoming engaged at a parish, though, is a multi-step process that builds on itself (See Figure 1). When you receive something from the parish (e.g. a positive experience of Mass), then the natural inclination is to later give back, often in the form of service or tithing. And over time, the meshing of giving and getting leads to a feeling of belonging within the community, and ultimately growing in one’s faith.

Results Highlights

Gallup’s ME25 survey, conducted here in November 2015, scores engagement, spiritual commitment, outcomes and demographics on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

In engagement, we scored above average on the following statements:

  • “My spiritual needs are met.”
  • “Spiritual leaders in my parish seem to care about me as a person.”
  • “Other members of my parish are committed to spiritual growth.”
  • “I have opportunities to learn and grow.”

And we scored below average on the following:

  • “In the last six months someone in my parish has talked to me about the progress of my spiritual growth.”
  • “Aside from family members, I have a best friend in my parish.”
  • “In the last month, I have received recognition or praise from someone in my parish.”

The results of this survey have been shared with the Parish Leadership Council and Finance Committee, as well as the parish staff. Because it is our hope that engagement in the parish will continue to increase each year, recommendations in response to these results are under review at this time.


What about these results surprised you? What do you think is being done well? Or perhaps, what could be done better? Please consider taking a few moments to fill out our online anonymous feedback form:


Mercy Is All Around Us


Mercy Is All Around Us

By Barbara Morgan, Coordinator for Ministers of Care

So, what is mercy?

It is a natural, instinctive impulse to help that is a gift from God. All ministries are conduits of mercy, from God, through us, to those in need. 

Ministering to the sick is purely about mercy. It is all about healing. God is the Healer and we ministers are a mere shadow of His presence to those we visit who need just that—healing. In return for our merciful, ministerial interactions with the sick, we receive so many blessings in return. Call them encounters with the Holy Spirit, moments of God’s timing, or unsolicited fulfillment of what you need in order to be merciful. They are not just coincidence.

Be merciful to all.
— Wisdom 11:23

A Day in the Life of a Minister of Care:

Sentara Careplex - Hampton, VA. Just around the corner from our parish.

I was scheduled to go to Sentara Hampton Careplex as the Hospital Minister of Care of-the-day. My plan was to meet with Carol Dufresne, ICC Director of Human Concerns and advisor to our ministry, at 10:00 a.m. to plan for the next Sunday’s quarterly meeting of our ministry members. I woke up to a crescendo of rain at 58 degrees (following a frigid cold-snap with wintery mix for about 24-hours). I arrived at church to find Carol was stuck in traffic on I-64. She called and asked if we could meet at 3:00 p.m. So, I went into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament to collect hosts for the patients I had to visit at the hospital. While I was in the Chapel the rain outside intensified to a pounding deluge. At first, I felt this sense of gloom and being trapped! But then I realized, with the statue of our Lord and Savior on the Cross hanging over me, that I was not trapped. I was safe, surrounded by this holy place, with the rain emotionally and spiritually cleansing me. I had that God-connection that we all yearn for. Eventually, the rain subsided and I left the chapel to run into Carol, coming through the front door of the church, joking, “Now, you don’t have to leave and come back. We can meet now!”

Eventually, I made it to the hospital with three patients to pray with, one to serve communion and six new Catholic admissions to “pre-screen” (which is when we ask for permission to serve and pray with them to fulfill HIPPA patient confidentiality law). The first patient was in ICU, awake and talking for the first time in about 10 days of unconsciousness on life-support. It is always a pure joy to see such healing and to be a part of it. The second patient was fast asleep and snoring. The third patient was in Dialysis, and so I talked and prayed a little with her niece. The fourth patient was discharged.  

Of the pre-screened patients, three asked that we just pray with them, and three agreed to be served communion, one of whom also asked for a Bible. So, I set off in search of a Bible and didn’t have to go too far. Around the corner from the patient’s room is a visitors’ lounge. I bent down to take a drink from the water fountain and my eyes rested on a table there on which was a Bible with a label on it that says (I am not making this up…..) "YOU MAY TAKE THIS." So I did, and I delivered it to the patient!

Sometimes we are the bearers of mercy and sometimes we are the recipients—either way, mercy is all around us!  We need only be open to the many ways that God is reaching out to and through us.

Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me and answer me.
— Psalm 27:B1

About our Ministers of Care

This ministry provides pastoral care to any Catholic patient at Sentara Careplex Hospital who has requested a pastoral visit. Each day a scheduled volunteer visits the hospital, brings Holy Communion, prays with the patient, and presents the patient with a prayer card prior to leaving.

To be a part of this ministry, contact Barbara Morgan.


Stations of the Cross


Stations of the Cross

By Steve DeLaney, Asst. Director of Evangelization

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional way of meditating on the passion of Jesus, and are often prayed during the Lenten season. The faithful follow Jesus as he carries his cross, using a guided prayer and stopping before images of the Stations in the church. There are many variations on the Stations, and their beginnings are not known. Early Christian legend held that Mary walked the final steps of her son each day in Jerusalem. As early as the 3rd century, visitors to Bethlehem and Jerusalem were praying along sacred sites. The practice of the Stations, as we know it, really grew out of the political conflicts between European Christianity and the expanding Muslim empire across the north of Africa. The Holy Land was no longer easily accessible for Christians on pilgrimage from Europe, and so local shrines were developed, where the faithful could travel along “stations” and pray with Jesus on his journey to the cross. This tradition eventually developed 14 stations, which are found on the walls of Catholic churches today.

For centuries, Catholics have found deep solace in journeying with Christ in the Stations of the Cross. There are many written versions of the prayer, from St. Louis de Montfort’s classic version, to stations written about contemporary issues of justice, and stations written by Popes. Artists find the fourteen images of Jesus on the “Via Dolorosa” deeply compelling, and have blessed us with powerful images of suffering and grace. In Poland, the Catholic Church commissioned a series of Stations to reflect upon the suffering inflicted upon Poland during WWII and Soviet rule until the late 1980s. Built outdoors and sculpted in life size, the stations depict Jesus accompanied by the heroes and martyrs of the Polish church. It is a vivid display of how the Catholics in Poland saw Christ in their suffering. An example, seen here, shows the young priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was martyred by the communist regime.  He is placed in the sixth station as Simon of Cyrene, who carries the cross while Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Another recent example of a beautiful Stations of the Cross is by contemporary artist Virginia Maksymowicz. She created relief images in white plaster using the real faces and limbs of living people, giving a powerful meditation on the reality of the incarnation, and Jesus’ very human suffering. Of particular beauty is her image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she meets her son on the way of the cross (the fourth station). The image carries such grief, and such love.

We invite you to consider praying the Stations of the Cross this Lent. We offer several opportunities (details below), and we hope that you will explore this ancient and sacred prayer. 


Enter into prayer with the Stations of the Cross led on most occasions by Dave Reeves (Diocesan Diaconate Formation program), and others as noted. There are multiple opportunities to attend throughout Lent:

Mon, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Mon, Mar 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Wed, Mar 16 at 9:00 a.m.

Fri, Mar 18 at 7:00 p.m.*

Fri, Mar 25 at 3:00 p.m.**

*Led and reenacted by the Senior Youth Group.

**Good Friday Stations led by Fr. Prince.


Lenten Priorities


Lenten Priorities

By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

Why Lent

Our observance of Lent takes us on the journey to our greatest celebration in our liturgical year, Easter.  We are called by the Church to a spirit of repentance and reflection about our Baptism and the promises we made or were made for us at our Baptism.  Our catechumen (those journeying to Baptism at the Easter Vigil) are also continuing their steps in the midst of this parish toward the paschal mystery.  Lent may be described as a season of endings and beginnings as we celebrate the mystery of the Cross on which Jesus died and the wonder of beginnings through resurrection and eternal life. Author, Matthew Kelly asks,” Do you need a fresh start?”  Kelly’s prompt to us, “Jesus is the ultimate new beginning”.

Jesus is the ultimate new beginning
— Matthew Kelly, "Rediscover Jesus"


All of us have, at one time or another, named certain things as our priorities. From time to time, when we become aware of our not doing something that is really important, we say, "I have to make that a priority." Lent is an important time to do a top-to-bottom review of what we value and what we actually do in our everyday lives. Whenever we do this, we always discover that something needs re-aligning. We discover that there are values we hold, commitments we've made, growth we desire, that simply don't make it on the list of our "actual priorities" - that is, the things that take the "first place" in our lives. For example, I might say, "My family is my first priority!" My family might say otherwise. I might say, "My faith is among my top priorities." But, an honest self-examination may show otherwise. I may say, I hear the words of Jesus that we will be judged really on only one thing: how we care for "the least" of his sister and brothers. I may only occasionally even notice that feeding, clothing, caring for or defending the marginal never makes it to my priority list.


A thorough review of what is most important to us, and what seems to be important to us by virtue of what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity.  If what we are hoping to do during Lent is to grow in personal freedom, based upon our growing sense of God's love for us, and our clearer vision of who we are, and our deepening desire to be more closely aligned with the heart of Jesus, then we will want to do this personal review very carefully.  How else might we ever hope to get to a heroic, courageous, self-sacrificing service of others?  What chance will care of the poor ever have of making it into our priorities?  How will we ever be able to break old self-defeating habits and secure the establishment of new ones that help us be who we want to actually be?

A thorough review of what is most important to us, and what seems to be important to us by virtue of what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity.

So when we may be considering what we will do for Lent; or considering what we may want to give up during these forty days, let’s look deeply into our priorities and see with Lenten eyes and eyes on Jesus where and how we spend our time and our treasure.  What better time to realign our priorities than this Lent.  



Mercy Is Much More Than Forgiveness

By Angela Delong, Volunteer - Morning Outreach Ministry

A Ministry of Mercy

Mercy is much more than forgiveness. It can be as simple as the smile or the kindness of a stranger.  Working in the Morning Outreach Ministry at Immaculate Conception gives our community many opportunities to experience mercy.  This ministry provides Hampton residents financial assistance with their utility payments when life throws them a curve.

Our volunteers for this ministry primarily work face to face with individuals who need financial assistance and for whom it is often very difficult to ask for help.  The appreciation we receive when we are able to help is very rewarding. To relieve their stress, if even for a moment, is not only mercy, but an instance of God’s grace.

Two Acts of Kindness

Serving in this ministry has allowed me to witness great acts of kindness.  Once, a gentleman was asking for help with his electric bill since he lost his job and was no longer was able to get assistance.  He was an older gentleman and overheard the story of another guest of our ministry who was not able to work because of caring for a sick child.  The older gentleman came back into the office after we assisted him and handed him $20.00 and said that he wished he could give him more, but it was all he had. 

In another case, we also have a very kind lady who offered on two separate occasions to pay the electric bill for someone in need. She preferred to remain anonymous and wanted no accolades. She did not want to meet those whom she helped. She was simply called by the Holy Spirit to pay their bills.  All she asks is that the person be very much in need and that their balance be more than the $75.00 that we are able to provide.  

Both of these people, to me, are the living expression of the compassion and love of God. The smile, tears (happy) and gratitude that the person receiving shows is so rewarding that it is a blessing for us.  Mercy for anyone is a gift of grace that is truly awesome!

In these challenging times, in this Year of Mercy, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves, this Lent, how we might follow the example of these two people, how might we extend love, consolation and mercy to those who need it most?

A Prayer

God of compassion and of love, help us to give in whatever way we can, in spite of our limitations and deficiencies, so that we can love and care for those who may need it most. Help us to be vessels of your mercy.


Fasting & Abstinence


Fasting & Abstinence

By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

Fasting is a discipline of our Church that helps us to enter more deeply into the experience of this special season.  Fasting means that those from 18 to 59 year of age are asked to have only one full meal.  Some food may be taken at other meal times but should be less than one full meal.  Liquids may be consumed at any time but this discipline does not allow for snacking between meals.  We are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Abstinence is the absence of meat.  The Church considers meat to be chickens, cows, sheep and pigs.  Birds are also considered meat.  Technically, the juices, sauces or gravies from these is permitted although admittedly made from meat.   Catholics are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday as well as all the Fridays of Lent.    

Now having said the letter of the law, let’s consider the spirit of the law.  As Catholics growing in our faith and preparing for the Easter celebration, we are invited, as a result of our fasting or abstaining, to reflect on Jesus as we skip a meal or downsize our lunch.  When we have shrimp on Friday instead of a hamburger, how is Jesus more present in prayer through this choice?    May we feel called to a more significant fast?  May we abstain from meat on Wednesdays of Lent in addition to Fridays?  Of course, if we find we are moving closer to Jesus because of this discipline.

Led by the Spirit of our God, we go to fast and pray With Christ into the wilderness…
— “Led by the Spirit,” Kingsfold

Post by Cass Hooker