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Episode 4 – Carol Hodge, Mustard Seed Community

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A Message from Bishop Iffert

February 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 As you plan for the beginning of Lent, you are probably thinking about the practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving that you will undertake. As you do, be sure to think about Sundays. 

The most common question I receive about Lent is “Do Sundays count?” I do not hear that question pre-Lent or in the early days of the season. It tends to show up around the third week of Lent. Typically, the person is fasting from some favorite treat — candy, soda, coffee, bourbon — and just as the cravings take hold someone tells them that Sundays are “in Lent, but not of Lent.” They notice that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, and they want to know if they are allowed to consume the treat they are abstaining from on Sundays. 

Sometimes they have heard this from an authority. Their parish priest, or grandma, assures them that it is a thing. “Every Sunday is a little Easter,” you sometimes hear, “a celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord during which we do not fast.” I have even had industrious questioners quote Scripture in defense of adjusting their Lenten fast to exclude Sundays. “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” (Mark 2:19), they ask. 

I always answer this question about fasting on Sunday with a question of my own: What did you intend to do when you began your Lenten practice? 

Did you say to yourself and to God that you would sacrifice throughout Lent, or did you intend to make that little sacrifice each day except Sunday? Whatever commitment you set your mind and heart to, keep it. Fulfill the little promises that you make to God, and God will build on your faithfulness to trust you with, and support you through, weightier matters. That is the surest course of action. Be honest and faithful. 

Lent is a campaign of Christian charity. The fasts we undertake are meant to help us love God and our neighbor. We eat less and experience hunger so that we recall our complete dependence upon God’s divine providence. We are reminded that many in the human family live without and we redouble our prayer and action toward justice and mercy. We engage in these practices of praying, fasting, and giving alms as a way of preparing to renew our baptismal promises at Easter. So let us be honest in the little things and beg God’s help to endure in the great work of discipleship. 

As you prepare for Lent 2024, think ahead about the sacrifice that you are making. What will help you to be more selfless and grow in your capacity to love God and others? Will that practice be daily or are you going to rest from your fast on Sunday? Either pattern can be justified if we are honest with God and ourselves from the beginning. As in all things, faithfulness matters. 

I join you in praying for a holy Lent that will help strengthen us to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

Bishop John Iffert

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In the Diocese of Covington, before contracting the services of an extern (from outside the diocese) priest or deacon, man or woman religious, or lay person a request for verification in good standing must be submitted to the Chancery. Click here and you will be directed to the Chancery’s webpage where you can download and submit the proper form.

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The Archives of the Diocese of Covington offers assistance in obtaining sacramental records and other genealogical information.

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