Parish hosts Lenten series - Catholic Courier

Parish hosts Lenten series

SODUS — Lent is commonly known as a time of fasting and self-sacrifice, but in Sodus about two dozen church-goers marked the first morning of Lent March 1 by enjoying a hearty breakfast at Church of the Epiphany.

The meal was the first in a series of weekly Lenten breakfasts sponsored by the Sodus Council of Churches, said Catharine Kelly, coordinator of the series. Each Wednesday morning during the Lenten season, a group of volunteers from the community will prepare a breakfast, and a representative from one of the churches in the council will give a talk related to the this year’s theme, which is “Where Jesus Walked: A Journey Throughout the Biblical World,” she said.

“It’s not only feeding the stomach, but feeding the soul as well,” said Kelly, who belongs to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sodus.

The ecumenical breakfast series gives people the opportunity to reflect on and deepen their understanding of Lent, she said.

Each breakfast starts at 7 a.m., but Kelly usually arrives at the church at about 5:15 to set up the tables and chairs and make a few pots of coffee for the volunteer chefs, who usually arrive by 6. Breakfast is usually served by 7:15, and the program is over by 8 a.m, said Bob Hillis, who maintains Church of the Epiphany and its mission parish, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Sodus Point.

There is no charge for the breakfast, but the Sodus Council of Churches will accept a suggested donation of $3, Kelly said. Most of this money is used to buy the food for the breakfasts, and any money left over is used to support the council’s programs. The local churches take turns hosting the series each year, and Church of the Epiphany will host the series this year, Hillis said.

Jeff Sergeant, who annually attends the Lenten breakfast series, said she likes the Christian fellowship she finds at the meals. She also likes the variety of speakers and perspectives presented each week. One time, she said, a speaker gave a particularly thought-provoking reflection from the point of view of Judas’ mother.

“That’s a different twist. It portrayed one of the disciples from a very different perspective, and (Judas is) one who I don’t think people think about a lot except in a derogatory way,” said Sergeant, a Methodist.

Wanda Van de Bogart, also a Methodist, said the breakfasts help her focus on what the Lenten season is all about. Joan Hurley also said the breakfasts help her fully experience the Lenten season. She attends the series most years but wasn’t able to last year, and as a result felt like she missed Lent.

“I really missed it last year,” she said.

Joan and her mother, Shirley, both belong to Church of the Epiphany and also enjoy the sense of fellowship the breakfasts provide. Their timing is also very convenient for Joan, who leaves for work straight from the breakfasts.

On March 1, Mike Garlock and his employees at Northern Wayne Auto Center prepared scrambled eggs, fried eggs, toast, home fries and sausage. Garlock has been helping with the church breakfasts for more than 20 years.

“They ask me to do it every year, and one of my friends helped start this,” he explained. “I kind of keep it going in his memory.”

After everyone had been served, Father Symon Peter Ntaiyia, parochial administrator of Church of the Epiphany and St. Rose of Lima, gave a reflection on the meaning of Lent.

“We see the season of Lent as a spiritual journey of 40 days. We make this journey each year because in baptism we become a chosen people who are called to holiness,” Father Ntaiyia said.

We are called to prayer during this season because prayer is one of the three pillars of Lent, he said. In the Old Testament, people prayed that God would send them a savior. That prayer was answered, so today we have a different prayer, he said.

“We are saying, ‘Thank you God for sending us a Messiah,'” Father Ntaiyia said.

The importance of prayer is highlighted many times in the Old Testament, he said. In the book of Exodus, for example, God was angry with the Israelites when they built and worshipped a golden calf. He planned to destroy them, but relented when Moses prayed and pleaded with him, Father Ntaiyia said. Jesus himself also demonstrated the importance of prayer, and according to Scripture he often prayed throughout the night or woke at dawn to pray, he added.

Fasting is another pillar of the Lenten season. Christians fast because they believe the act will draw them closer to God, and fasting is a way of temporarily detaching ourselves from the physical gifts God has given us, he said.

“You don’t allow the physical things to be your master,” Father Ntaiyia said.

By disciplining themselves and abstaining from certain things during Lent, people will appreciate them more when Lent is over, Father Ntaiyia said, likening the situation to the way travelers are glad to return to their homes after long journeys.

“You appreciate it because you’ve been away,” he said.

Almsgiving is the third pillar of Lent, and refers to the way people take care of each other. In Matthew 25:35-40, Jesus encouraged his followers to help those who were strangers or who were hungry, thirsty, naked, sick or in prison. This command can be the yardstick by which Christians judge their own actions, Father Ntaiyia said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Church of the Epiphany is located at 105 W. Main St. in Sodus. For more information about the Lenten breakfast series, contact the parish at 315/483-6111.

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