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Sacrificium: A Lenten reminder
By John Gleason
It’s inching closer. March 9 is Ash Wednesday, which will mark the beginning of Lent, the penitential season when Catholics prepare themselves for Easter.
From the time we’re children, Catholics are taught that Lent is a time of additional prayer, fasting, repentance and charity. Often, we “give something up.” And as any child can tell you, many times the sacrifice made with fervor at the beginning of Lent can be difficult to maintain as time goes on.
“Oh, there is a lot enthusiasm on Ash Wednesday,” agreed Father Randy Dollins, parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Frisco. “Much more than there is by the fourth Sunday of Lent.”
This year the archdiocesan Office of Liturgy is offering an aid to remind parishioners of the sacrifice they’re attempting to make and the reason they’re making it.
The project is called “Sacrificium” (“Sacrifice”). Developed and put into practice last year by Father Dollins, the project consists of a promise card, upon which people write what they intend to give up for Lent; a personal reminder card which spells out the fasting, abstinence and sacrifices the person will do; and a black band imprinted with the word, “Sacrificium,” which the person wears on their wrist throughout Lent.
Father Dollins said the idea came to him while he was parochial vicar at St. Michael Church in Craig.
“It was really the confluence of two ideas,” he said. “It occurred to me that everyone loves to receive ashes. Even those who don’t attend Mass regularly come to church to get ashes—and people love to receive palms on Palm Sunday. So I thought there might be something we could give them that would be a reminder of those ashes during the whole season of Lent.”
Pointing out how the popularity of wrist bands never seems to wane, Father Dollins decided a black band (symbolizing the color of ashes) stamped with the Latin word for sacrifice, would be the perfect prompt.
“I wanted a bilingual bracelet and thought the official language of the Church would work for both Spanish- and English-speaking parishioners,” he said. “The psychology is that you are not in it alone. It is a constant reminder of the practices of fasting and abstinences that you and every other Catholic are doing during Lent.”
The card and wristband project was initiated last year in several parishes: St. Michael in Craig, Holy Family in Meeker, St. Ignatius in Rangely and Holy Name in Steamboat. Response was so great that parishes ran out of wristbands. Word of the success of the program spread and the Office of Liturgy announced that this Lent they would provide wristbands to any parish in the archdiocese that would like to participate.
“This year we have 100,000 bracelets available,” said Deacon Chuck Parker, Office of Liturgy director. “We sent out the word and as of this week we’ve heard from about 50 percent of the parishes. … I’m sure as we get closer to Lent we’re going to hear from even more.”
Even though the Sacrificium wristbands were designed for Lent, Father Dollins said the bracelet can be worn throughout the year
“It’s such a great thing,” he said. “You’re wearing one and someone on the street asks about it. You have the chance to share with them what it is and its meaning and the next thing you know, you’re evangelizing to people—all from a little black bracelet.”