On this Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time in the year 2013, the Church invites us to acknowledge and celebrate those who have been living the Sacrament of Marriage. February 10th is World Marriage Day. As such, I wish to extend my congratulations and best wishes to all of you who are married. I know that the gift of married life can sometimes be challenging, yet God is with you in the midst of your daily joys and struggles. We pray that each day that you share your lives as spouses will be an opportunity for growing together in the Lord. May God help you to live in joy as you get closer to His Kingdom.
This week is filled with many celebrations:
- February 11th, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, was designated as the World Day of the Sick by Pope John Paul II in 1992. We commend all who are suffering to the intercession of Our Lady that she will assist them in their trials. We also ask God’s loving mercy upon them as they unite their sufferings to those of Jesus on the cross. May this time of testing help them to grow closer to the Lord and may their tribulation become a source for their redemption through Christ. During this week, I would suggest that each of us make a particular effort to reach out to someone that is lonely or struggling, especially those who are ill or in difficult circumstances. Perhaps a kind word or thoughtful gesture or a random act of kindness may be just the thing that someone needs to get them through the day or even through the week.
- Tuesday, February 12th is pącki day or Mardi Gras. Don’t eat too many donuts!
- Wednesday, February 13th is Ash Wednesday a day of fast and abstinence. All Catholics should refrain from eating meat or meat products. (Eggs and dairy products may be consumed.) Only three simple meals should be eaten and no snacking in between meals. (Some people I know choose to fast from all food from midnight to midnight on Ash Wednesday and then they order pizza at midnight on Thursday!) In addition to fasting, the Church encourages us to increase our prayer and alms-giving during the Lenten season. You may consider putting together a Lenten plan of action of how you are going to deepen your relationship with God during the coming weeks.
- Thursday, February 14th of course is Valentine’s Day (or for Eastern Europeans, the Feast of SS. Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles to the Slavic Peoples). Even if you don’t have a significant other, share sentiments of love and affection with those who are close to you.
Lastly, on an entirely different topic, I have received a few questions regarding women becoming deacons. There was a study done in the 1960’s about the possibility and in the early Church there were deaconesses (although they functioned more like pastoral associates than deacons—these women were not “ordained” but rather were commissioned to assist in doing pastoral work). The short answer is that the ordination to the diaconate is the first of the three grades of holy orders (the others being priest and bishop). Since the two upper grades are restricted to men only, so too is the office of deacon.