A Time of Prayer and Reflection

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

The calendars (regular and liturgical) of these current days have some points for reflection form us, historically and faith wise.

We are right at President’s Day, which is a combination of the former observations of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays. As citizens of the United States it behooves us, I believe, to know something about these two Presidents, their history and their respective eras. Growing up in Springfield, Illinois I was able to experience firsthand much of the Lincoln heritage. I would certainly recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “A Team of Rivals” as an insightful contemporary narration of President Lincoln and the challenges of the Civil War era and the life of Lincoln.

Right upon us now is “Mardi Gras”, which means “Fat Tuesday”. This refers to the fact that when Lent was very strict the kitchens of homes and establishments were emptied of all fat and meat, to prepare for Lent, which follows the next day on Ash Wednesday. The colors of Mardi Gras, and some of the customs, also can trace their origin back to the Epiphany as well. This can remind us of at some level, of the connection between faith, ritual and thus, even our “secular festivals”.

This is also an occasion to reflect on the tremendous and apostolic work and mission of Catholic Charities here in Orange County. We just celebrated their Mardi Gras Gala last Friday night, which brings so many people together for the purpose of supporting the mission of Catholic Charities. At the Gala, the local Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher were recognized for their outreach locally and for the faithful support of the mission of the Church in the Holy Land in these violent times in the Middle East. Thank you Tita Smith for your leadership and that of your Board and staff.

Finally with Ash Wednesday upon us, Lent is here. The word Lent is actually an old English word. Countries whose heritage is Catholic, use a word such as “Quaresima” (Italy) or “Cuaresima” (Spanish speaking ) that reflects the 40 days that Christ spent in the desert.

This season of “Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving ” are an opportunity to reflect on how we are disciples of the Lord, and how we are called to live that relationship with Him in a deeper and more profound and even public way! More later on this season…

Finally, in the early days of Lent, Fr. Binh Nguyen, Fr. Francis Vu SJ and I will be in Vietnam for the celebration of TET ( Lunar New Year) and the first days of Lent. We hope and pray that this visit will continue to strengthen the bonds of Faith, family and friendship between our Diocese and the people of Vietnam.

A very blessed season of Lent to all and thank you for all of sacrifice and generosity in so many ways. May the Lord bless you always .

+Kevin W. Vann