by Fr. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J.
Spring is in the air—and that means Lent must be near. Are you getting ready for Ash Wednesday, when again we begin this sacred season?
I find it curious that the word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning "spring season.” Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Holy Trinity Parish will commemorate the 40 Days that follow with quite a list of Lenten activities, some familiar and some new! Allow me to describe some of the highlights here:
On Ash Wednesday, ashes will be distributed during the 8:00 AM and 5:30 PM Masses, as well as during an Ash Wednesday evening prayer service at 7:30 PM in the church. This Lent we will also try something innovative. After the 5:30 PM Masses on all Wednesday evenings during March, we will have the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 6:15 - 7:15 PM. During this Holy Hour, parishioners will also have the opportunity to go to Confession in the adjacent parlor. Then on the Wednesday evening of Holy Week, April 5, there will be a Penance Service in the main church. The scheduled time of this Holy Week service is yet to be determined.
In addition, on certain Fridays during Lent, following the 5:30 PM Mass there will be Stations of the Cross services in the church. On the first Friday of Lent, February 24, we will have a special Stations of the Cross service commemorating the anniversary of Russian forces attacking Ukrainian territories. As we process through each of the fourteen stations, we intend to correlate dimensions of Jesus with the sufferings of so many Ukrainian victims. Several Holy Trinity parishioners of Ukrainian heritage will help to lead this special memorial service.
Furthermore, our Lenten Season will feature two other Friday evening services of Stations of the Cross. At 6:00 PM on Friday, March 24, the Stations will be led by some of our Religious Education children and other members, given around the theme of focusing on family. A potluck dinner will follow in McKenna Hall (no meat please!). Then on the evening of Friday, March 31, members of our Migrant Team will sponsor the Stations, this time focusing on migrant concerns. All parishioners are encouraged to attend these special Lenten services and events!
Finally, at the conclusion of Lent and at the beginning of the Sacred Easter Triduum, namely Holy Thursday, a very special event will be offered. After three years of abstinence, Holy Trinity parishioners will be given the opportunity to receive the Precious Blood of Christ. Some months ago, the Priest Council of the Archdiocese of Washington made a motion to Cardinal Gregory asking that at the evening Mass commemorating the Last Supper this year, the Archdiocesan parishes be allowed to resume the practice of giving The Holy Eucharist under both species. The Cardinal has given his consent, provided, of course, that another serious virus variant does not emerge.
As a priest, who for the past three years has not had to abstain from receiving the Precious Blood, I can only imagine how so many of you have felt having to forgo receiving it yourselves. I like to think that this Lent will be a very special time as parishioners anticipate and prepare to receive the Precious Blood again for the first time in three years. For many of you, it will be a moment of great consolation, to simply imagine that when this Lenten Season ends on Holy Thursday, you will be allowed to receive The Holy Eucharist again and again under both species. Certainly, it will give me, my fellow Jesuits, and all our wonderful Eucharistic Ministers such great joy when we are finally able to offer each of you the Holy Bread and the Precious Blood once more!
May you have a Happy Spring and an inspiring Lent!