National Day of Prayer Begins African American History Month
The National Day of Prayer for the African American Family, observed Sunday, February 7, begins African American History Month. Founded in 1989, this day of prayer began during a gathering of African American Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Franciscan Father James E. Goode addressed the assembly on the power of prayer and called the nation to especially pray on the first Sunday of Black History Month. "This day is set aside to gather in prayer to celebrate African-American faith, families and respect for the value of life," says Stephanie Greenhouse, Program Coordinator for the Secretariat for African American Catholics. "Individuals are asked to attend church, worship as a family, gather at meal time, share family history and make a resolution that the entire family will strive to fulfill throughout the year."
Stephanie Greenhouse can be reached at 202-541-3177.
St. Valentine Is Global Symbol of Love
The celebration of love, Valentine's Day, February 14, is named after the priest physician martyred in Rome in the year 269. "He's a good patron for people in love, for true love always involves giving oneself and, therefore, one's life for another," said Richard McCord, the U.S. Bishops' adviser on marriage and family issues. "Commitment is the value and the skill that makes possible a deep and lasting love. Engaged couples know this, although they may not have always experienced commitment in other relationships or observed it in their parents' marriage. For this reason, couples look for an emphasis on commitment when they come to the Church for marriage preparation and they seem to benefit more from programs that make commitment a priority topic."
Richard McCord can be reached at 202-541-3040.
Ash Wednesday Is Time to Renew Commitment to Christ
Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 17. With ashes in the sign of a cross on their forehead, and hearing the exhortation, Aturn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,@ Christians begin this period of 40 days of prayer, penance, and almsgiving. These acts of penance and devotion, and the conversion from sin which they symbolize, are undertaken by Christians to renew their commitment to Christ and to living the Christian life which began in baptism. "The traditional practice of fasting during Lent can help us become the person Christ wants us to be --if we do it in a spirit of conversion," says Sister Ann Rehrauer, an advisor on liturgy to the U.S. Bishops. "Fasting from food, from smoking, from too much television, from too much time surfing the net, or from anything that gets in the way of our prayer and focus on Christ will help us if we take the time or the money saved and use it for a good purpose."
Sister Ann Rehrauer can be reached at 202-541-3063.