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State Chaplain 2018 - 2019

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
April 2019

We’ve made it through the first half of Lent. Do we still have the energy with which we started the season? It’s never too late to renew our commitment and resolve to embrace the spirit of penance and to persevere with our regimen of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

It’s good for us to keep in mind (as I mentioned in last month’s bulletin) our reason for engaging in penance during these weeks. The Church certainly recommends prayer, fasting, and almsgiving all throughout the year--these are like medicine for the soul--but especially in this time she sees penance as a way of preparing ourselves.

While we may think of Lent as a preparation for Easter in a general way, the Church urges us to be specific about the target of our penance. The Liturgy gives us good insight here. Look at the words of the blessing of ashes on Ash Wednesday: “...that, as they [the people] follow the Lenten observances, they may be worthy to come with minds made pure to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son.”

The Prayer over the Offerings on that same day says: “...that, through works of penance and charity, we may turn away from harmful pleasures and, cleansed from our sins, may become worthy to celebrate devoutly the Passion of your Son.”

The Preface on the First Sunday of Lent reads: “...that, celebrating worthily the Paschal Mystery, we might pass over at last to the eternal paschal feast.” Throughout Lent, there are several of the proper prayers at Mass that remind us that the purpose of this time of preparation is that we might celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus in a worthy and fitting way.

In other words, the target of the Lenten season is Holy Week, not just Easter Sunday. At the start of the Palm Sunday Mass, the priest celebrant announces that the celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery is beginning. Then we enter into the Sacred Triduum on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and continue with the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, and the Easter Sunday Mass during the day. All of this together is the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. We’re talking about a week-long commitment here--no wonder it calls for forty days of preparation!

This is the high point of the Church year. I really urge you to take it seriously and to delve deeply into the celebrations. Each liturgy is a once-a-year celebration, which makes this a very special and privileged time.

Many argue that the high point of Easter is the celebration of the Sacraments for new Catholics and the renewal of baptismal promises for those who are already in the Church. I, for one, like the idea very much. In this light, the preparations undergone during Lent serve as a process of purification and refocusing so that I can be renewed in the grace of my baptism and strengthened in my identity as a beloved child of God through a heartfelt profession of the promises made at baptism. I see it as a “return to the source” that strengthens me for more faithful living of the Christian life.

I pray that your celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus may be very fruitful. Let’s keep each other in prayer during these holiest of days.



 Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire

State Chaplain