The season of Lent begins on March 1, 2017 with Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year until the beginning of 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 completed their 14th year of age (c. 1252). If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and to prepare to share more fully and celebrate more readily his Resurrection (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, 109). Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year. As always, anyone for whom fasting or abstinence would pose a health risk is excused.
All Catholic priests are urged to ensure that every Catholic has the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of penance during Lent. I fully realize that great distances of travel require expenses and time, please do what you can to promote an opportunity for confession. "Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depth of our being: the hunger and thirst for God." (Pope Benedict XVI)
The diocesan bishop celebrates the Chrism Mass as the high priest of his portion of the Lord's People. It is a principal expression of the fullness of the bishop's priesthood and signifies the close unity between him and his priests. During the Mass, the bishop invites the priests to renew their priestly commitment. He also consecrates the Chrism through which the newly baptized are anointed and confirmed; he blesses the oil of catechumens, by which candidates for baptism are strengthened to renounce sin and the devil, and the oil of the sick, through which the sick receive a remedy for the illness of soul and body and receive the strength to bear suffering, resist evil, and obtain the forgiveness of sin. So important is the participation of the priests and faithful of the diocese that the Church allows the bishop to transfer the Mass to a more convenient day and time so that the priests and faithful can participate.
The Chrism Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 7:00 PM on March 30, 2017. Please get your bottles and your information to Deborah at Sacred Heart Cathedral, (907) 474-9032.
The Mass of the Distribution of Holy Oils & Commitment for the Y-K Region will be held at Immaculate Conception Church in Bethel on March 31 at 7pm.
In keeping with the ancient tradition of the Catholic Church for the celebration of the Easter Vigil, it is indicated in the liturgical norms that it be celebrated 30 minutes after official sunset. I spoke with the Vatican Office for the Evangelization of the Peoples about our very unique situation in the northern reaches of globe and the late hour of sunset. They indicated that as the Diocesan Bishop that I have the authority to establish a time. On April 15, 2017, for those parishes where the Easter Vigil will be celebrated, it is asked that it begin after 7:30pm. If there is a serious pastoral reason that would warrant an exception, please contact the Office of the Bishop.