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Lent has 40 days with which to enter purposeful suffering and other spiritual disciplines. The end result creates a heart that’s better equipped to embrace the crosses of life like Simon of Cyrene, confident in recognizing the truths of the faith like Veronica or eager to spread it like St. Mary Magdalene did on Easter morning.
It only happens with a wee bit of luck every several years: March 17, the feast of St. Patrick, falls on a Friday this year. The patron saint of the Emerald Isle, credited with Christianizing the Irish, is the inspiration for celebrations not just in Ireland, but throughout the Irish diaspora.
Mike and Cheryl Lau don’t attend St. Henry Parish in Buckeye. The Verrado couple isn’t even Catholic. But after a decade of attending fish fries in their former home of Cincinnati, the Laus know a good fish fry when they see one — make that taste one — and the March 3 event at the church hall on Lower Buckeye Road filled their bill.
No matter how Catholics choose to up their prayer during Lent's 40 days, they have ample opportunities to do so.
Fasting, which has deep roots in many religious traditions, is meant to draw participants into deeper prayer and also link them with those in need.
In more ways than one, Ash Wednesday — celebrated March 1 this year — leaves a mark. "In terms of liturgical significance, it's very minor, but people observe it as overwhelmingly important," Thomas Humphries said. It draws Catholics to churches in droves even though it is not a holy day of obligation.
Sixth-graders got a Lenten sneak preview when their pastor visited class on Valentine's Day.