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Preparing for Lent
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Lent, the 40 days before Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday, which is this week.
Sundays are not counted during the 40 days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection.
A season for soul-searching and repentance, Lent is a time to reflect and take inventory of one's life. It originated in the early days of the church as a preparatory time for Easter. During this season traditionally, the faithful rededicate themselves and converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism.
By observing the 40 days of Lent, individual Christians imitate Jesus' withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days of praying and fasting
Since Easter falls on different dates each year, the advent of Lent varies from year to year. This year, Lent begins on Feb. 6 and ends on March 22, the day before Easter.
In Liberty County, many churches participate in this time of fasting, prayer, repentance and self-discipline. Members of St. Stephens Catholic Church in Hinesville are preparing themselves.
St. Stephens was organized on Sept. 27, 1979. Initially it was a mission church. On Dec. 7, 1980, the church had its solemn dedication to honor its first Christian martyr. Father Gerald Murphy served as the first pastor.
In July 2004, Father Thomas J. Murphy began serving as the pastor. Each year, Fr. Murphy and the members of St. Stephens look forward to Lent.
"Lent is a liturgical season which recalls our Lord's desert experience," said Murphy said. "Forty days and 40 nights (Matthew, Chapter 4) is a symbolic time-frame which reminds us of what Jesus endured for us. Lent calls us to live out our faith in loving service and sacrifice."
"Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth-Hebrew), Chapter 3 reminds us 'here is a time and season for all things,'" the pastor said. "Beginning Ash Wednesday is the time for Lent! Actually, Lent reminds us of that which we are called to do year long, acknowledging Jesus as our Lord and Savior in the way we live and the sacrifices we make. Simply put, Lent calls us to holiness."
St. Stephens 2008 Lenten schedule of activities includes:
Feb. 6, Ash Wednesday Masses (Jesus desert experience), 12:05 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Each Friday evening after the 7 Mass - Stations/Way of the Cross (Jesus journey to Calvary and Resurrection).
March 15-16 - Saturday Vigil Mass at 5 p.m. Palm Sunday (Jesus entrance into Jerusalem); Sunday Masses at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
March 20 - Holy Thursday, (Jesus suffering). Mass at 7 p.m.
March 21 - Good Friday (Jesus death). Stations of the Cross at 2:30 p.m.  Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m., and Good Friday Service at 7 p.m.
March 22 - Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil at 8 p.m.
March 23 - Easter Sunday (Jesus Resurrection), Masses at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Murphy and the St. Stephens Church family invite you to join them in celebrating Lent. Call them at 876-4364 for additional information.
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