Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On Ash Wednesday, we will hear St. Paul remind the Church in Corinth — and remind us — that we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We have been reconciled to God through Christ; in turn, Christ calls us to share that good news with all around us, to be ministers of that same reconciliation — in our families and in our churches, in our country and in our world.
By our prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we open ourselves to God’s grace, a grace that tears down barriers and heals the wounds of division; a grace that makes us one. In that unity, we accompany the catechumens to the Easter waters, and so are transformed ourselves. Our fasting, almsgiving and prayer also proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and remind us to give thanks for the many gifts we have received.
In regards to fasting and abstinence, please allow me to remind you of our Lenten discipline:
Everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22, 2012) and all the Fridays of Lent.
Everyone 18 years of age and under 59 years of age is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22, 2012) and Good Friday (April 6, 2012).
On these two days of fast and abstinence, only one full meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal one full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids (including milk and fruit juices) are allowed. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige.
To disregard completely the law of fast and abstinence is a serious matter.
Remembering that Lent also calls us to serve to the poor and the suffering, I would like to encourage everyone to take part in the Rice Bowl Program sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. Through our almsgiving and through study and reflection of this year’s theme, “For I was hungry … whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me,” the Rice Bowl Program offers an intentional way for us to join in solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the world.
Finally, I would ask all of us to remember those that bear the burden of public office in our prayers, especially in this election season. Let us hope that they would be attentive to the common good and to the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable, and that our political conversations would be marked by careful listening and respectful speech.
May our Lenten journeys be grace-filled; may we renew our Easter promises with renewed hope and faith at the end of our forty days.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Martin Amos
Bishop of Davenport