On Holy Saturday, April 3 at the Easter Vigil, those in the RCIA celebrated the Easter Sacraments. Congratulations to Jessica Navarro, Corina Cleja, and Daniel Geihsler on becoming members of the Catholic Church and our faith community!
The past few weeks have required extra time and energy from so many of our volunteers in order to rehearse and then serve at all the services of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter! This year was particularly a challenge because of all the pandemic protocols which have been unique for all these services. Our wonderful and generous corps of liturgical ministers and Covid protocol volunteers greeting and cleaning church after each service has done a magnificent job!
As I have mentioned before, we have been so blessed by the generosity of all these ministers which have not only helped us pray with reverence and grace, but also make it possible for our church to be open and welcoming to everyone. THANK YOU!
~ Father Rich
Our Almoner’s Program donated a total of 750 McDonald's gift cards, divided evenly between The Night Ministry and Care for Real, with a value of $3,625.00. These organizations were so grateful and both indicated that the gift cards will greatly augment their ability to serve the teens and young adults in their programs.
We are so thankful to everyone that made a donation via GiveCentral or placed funds in the collection box while attending Mass. Thank you again for your generosity!
Watch our 10:30 am Easter Sunday Mass
Easter Sunday, April 4 - All of our Easter Sunday Masses are at capacity. Please check the registration link for last-minute cancelations.
Registration to attend Easter Masses in-person is full. Please check the registration link for last-minute cancelations.
HERE are our COVID protocols, including which door to use, masks, temp screening, seating, and other social-distancing guidelines.
Our Rectory office is closed on Easter Monday, April 5.
Due to COVID-19, the Lighting of the New Fire on Holy Saturday and other portions of the rituals have either been removed or greatly simplified.
As you are probably already aware, the protocols for the services of Holy Week and Easter will have a significant effect this year. While we are in a better position than last year -- when we didn’t have any services -- it will still seem different than what we have been used to.
First -- as is true for all services in church, everyone must make a reservation no less than one full day before the service you wish to attend. In some cases, you would be wise to make any reservation as far in advance as possible. The need for at least a day is to give the office staff time to prepare the various clipboards with the listings and maps that are filled out at every service. Please make a reservation here or phone the rectory office to make your reservations.
Second -- Because we are still limited to 15-20% of capacity for services, we have added an additional noon Mass on Easter Sunday Masses.
What follows is a brief description of the changes in each of the services throughout Holy Week and Easter:
Palm Sunday: There are no Palm Sunday processions. All the Masses are to follow “Form Three” which means there are no processions and things should be kept very simple.
All the palms for the entire weekend will be blessed at the Saturday 5:00 pm Mass. Then palms will be available on the tables at the entrances/exits of church for all the masses. The scripture readings, including the reading of the Passion, will be done as usual. The 10:30 am Mass on Palm Sunday will be live-streamed.
Holy Thursday: There is no washing of hands/feet this year. There is no “formal” dressing of the altar -- it will be dressed before the Mass begins. After Communion, the procession to the Repository is very simple, with only the presider and a few adult servers going to the Repository.
Adoration will be available after Mass -- but only until 10:00 pm. There are to be no “pilgrimages” or the traditional visits to seven churches that many have done in the past. The 7:30 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be live-streamed.
Good Friday: Because Living Stations are not allowed, we will have the usual Stations of the Cross at 3:00 pm. Click HERE to register to attend in-person on Good Friday. Only an adult server with the processional cross will process. No members of the congregation are allowed to walk along with them. There is no Adoration of the Cross.
The Service of the Lord’s Passion begins at 7:30 pm, as usual, with a short procession with the presider lying prostrate in the center aisle while the congregation kneels in place. The scripture readings, including the reading of the Passion, will be done as usual. The Veneration of the Cross is only done ‘en masse’ -- that is, the presider holds the cross while all kneel for a few moments of silent veneration. There is NO individual veneration, no touching or kissing of the cross. The 7:30 pm Service of the Lord’s Passion will be live-streamed.
Holy Saturday - Easter Vigil Mass: There is no lighting of the new fire at the front porch of church. The Paschal Candle is prepared and lit ahead of time and comes in a simple procession from the sacristy. The Preside intones, “This is the light of Christ” three times, then places the candle in its stand as the Exsultet is sung by the cantor. Scripture readings are done as usual.
The baptism and Rite of Welcoming for the RCIA candidates takes place as usual -- but with a large, glass bowl of water instead of a pool. There are no individual candles for members of the congregation. Baptismal promises will be renewed and the blessing of the congregation with the holy water will take place. After the Mass, there is no reception for the newly welcomed members. The 7:30 pm Easter Vigil Mass will be live-streamed.
Easter Sunday: The Masses on Easter Sunday will look pretty much as they usually do. But, as we have been doing since we reopened, there is no congregational singing, only singing by the cantor. There is the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water. The 10:30 am Easter Sunday Mass will be live-streamed.
This week, we experience the shift in tone in the scripture readings as we move into the events leading directly to the Lord’s arrest, Passion, and death. Woven throughout all three readings today is the theme of hope and new life, even as the price for that hope and new life is made ever-clearer.
I always find the first sentence in today’s epistle reading from the Letter to the Hebrews most challenging, “In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” “He was heard”! It wasn’t that God the Father did not hear the prayers of his Son, he did hear those cries! But there was something greater at stake.
Oftentimes in difficult and painful situations, in the wake of the terrible news of someone we love dying, or of a medical crisis, or unemployment, people ask the very valid question, “Why?” “Why did this have to happen.” And “Why did it have to happen to me?” In those moments, there are no words that give true comfort. Instead, all Christians are silent and look to the cross. He is the answer to that question! It is not fair. It is not right. Any more than the Lord’s Passion and Death were fair or right or deserved.
At this time in Lent, our focus on the Lord’s suffering and death is not just an invitation, but something even stronger. We are forced to connect our own pain and suffering to His.
It is in the most difficult moments of life we have to first identify and then let go of whatever it is that blocks us from seeking and finding the profound truth of pain and suffering in our lives. There is almost always some degree of relinquishing control. Something bad happens and we want to fix it or have it fixed immediately - only to discover that’s not going to happen. At this point, many people abandon hope and instead they grasp the destructive forces of anger and retaliation -- as if they are being picked on in ways no one previously has ever endured.
The enormous challenge is to give in to the suffering. Not in a masochistic way, but in a way that acknowledges our limitations. We are not in charge of the world. We cannot even fix whatever our own troubles happen to be. Of course, we turn to doctors and other professionals who might be able to do something. We turn to those who love us and support us in the hope they can somehow make it better. But finally, we have to turn to God. God alone is in charge. And it is God’s Son who summons us to do what he has done -- to place our lives and our spirit into God’s hands. And all of this is for one reason alone -- it is because of love.
(Next weekend is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Please be sure to read the article on the pandemic and Holy Week in order to have a sense of what will and won’t happen because of the COVID protocols this year.)
Today’s scripture readings capture both the enormity of God’s chosen people turning against God, and the enormity of God’s love for us realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is both a singular event that happened once in history, and it is the ever-present reality for all of us as we renew our faith in God’s love and commit to turning away from sin and being faithful to our God.
These middle weeks of Lent focus our attention on the presence of evil and sin in our own lives and in our world. In today’s reading from the Book of Chronicles, we hear of the depravity and infidelity of the people that had reached such a level God could no longer look the other way and had to act to save his people. This salvation looks like punishment. The activity of the foreign kingdom which overruns the nation, destroys the temple, and takes captive all the people is known, in history, as the Babylonian Captivity. What is so striking about this period of history is that it was through a foreign ruler God’s punishment would lead the people into captivity to spend time being purified and coming to their senses. And when this long period is over, it will be another pagan king who sends the offspring and remnant of those captured back home to Israel with instructions to rebuild the temple.
The epistle reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians leaves no doubt that the salvation of the people is due not to anything they have done, but completely dependent on God’s love and mercy.
The cost of that deliverance, of our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, is the story in today’s gospel passage. St. John tells us Jesus reminded his listeners of the story of Moses saving people during their 40 years wandering in the desert who were being bitten by the seraph serpents and many of them dying. Until Moses, following instructions from God, crafted a serpent and held it up for the people to see the instrument of their destruction. If they looked upon it, they were cured. Just so will the Son of Man be lifted up in the horror of the cross and that stark and shocking image will cure us as well. This is a not-too-subtle reminder that we can only ever be reconciled to God when we face the reality of our sinful and evil ways and turn back to God and are forgiven in God’s mercy.
It is never easy to come face to face with our failings. In the great wisdom that has saved so many from the disease of addiction to alcohol and drugs, the 12 Steps are a life-map for how we can take the steps which can make that possible. We need to admit our powerlessness and our need for God. Then, with God’s help, choose to change how we have been living. This leads to making a fearless moral inventory -- coming face to face with the reality of how we have lived, how we have made decisions, how we have been in relationship with God and others. Only then can we move into making amends with those we have hurt and eventually move into sharing this way of life with others.
Our biggest obstacle is usually coming from our firm conviction ‘I can do this all myself’. Letting go of that erroneous stance is the prerequisite for moving into any sort of process that leads to a changed and new way of living. Even that process is a gift from God -- not something we make happen. The stories of our faith-history repeatedly point us to the shocking truth, God will save us, even from ourselves, by the very people we often perceive to be our enemy!
For the curious who hear these stories, they often wonder if such a thing truly happened! Which is why it is so helpful when we hear stories such as those in today’s first reading. What King Cyrus of Persia did in releasing the Israelites to return to their land was one of the actual events with written, historical proof of this kind of treatment.
In a very short while, his successor, Alexander, would become one of the greatest conquerors, even to being titled, “The Great”, who ruled over his vast empire not by wiping out previous culture and religions, but letting the people live as they had been used to living, believing, and worshiping as they had grown up believing and worshiping.
Why did this happen, this very different approach to being a conquering ruler? If you don’t believe in God, you can come up with many different possibilities. If you believe in God, the answer was clear. This is clearly the action of God who loves us and always does what is best for us -- even if, at any given moment, it may look more like a punishment than a saving action.
Third Sunday of Lent
Anger is perhaps the most misunderstood emotion among not only Christians, but many others throughout the world. Today’s gospel passage of Jesus cleansing the temple by creating a whip and driving out the moneychangers and others who had created a marketplace within the temple itself, is our confrontation with righteous anger.
Anger of any kind rises up within us when we perceive injustice towards ourselves present in the situation. Sometimes, this is, in a sense, a trick, because what has actually happened is our ego has been accurately attacked and we don’t like our frailty and imperfections being exposed. In those situations, we need to reflect on what is it that triggered this response in order to root out the source of our misperception -- it isn’t about changing the world, it is about changing ourselves.
Sometimes anger arises when we perceive we are being treated unfairly, not receiving what we have determined is our due. Oftentimes this is because of the biases or prejudices we have lived within for many years -- sometimes since we were very young children. I suspect a lot of the recent troubles in our own country are founded in this kind of anger. People feel and suspect they aren’t getting something they “deserve” while others who don’t “deserve” it are receiving it or are at least perceived as receiving it. In these cases, it is imperative that everyone move towards the objective truth of the situation. What is wrong in these situations is not the reality of what is present, but the incorrect perception of those who do not like it. Especially in these situations, speaking the truth is of paramount importance.
The anger of Jesus in today’s gospel passage is accurate and appropriate. Probably over the course of many years, everyone got lax about following the religious norms regarding the temple. Now those with business savvy set up the selling of necessary materials for offering their sacrifices (e.g. two turtle doves, etc.) and were able to pay-off or wear down those responsible for maintaining the religious nature of the temple. In so doing, the real purpose of the temple became distorted. Its primary purpose was no longer to adore God and offer appropriate sacrifices. Instead, it had become one more place of business. Jesus’ anger not only reveals his passion for truth but his passion for his Father and His Father’s House! That is righteous anger. He is not only speaking up for himself but for all his fellow believers in order to get things back into their right order so that worship of God may again be pure.
One of the great gifts of so many community organizations and community organizers is that they rouse up the hearts and souls of people to “speak truth to power.” They identify the injustices that are encouraged and supported by those in power enjoying the status quo and demand it be confronted and changed for the good of all the people. Obviously, if everyone has gotten used to the way things are, correcting this injustice is going to cause upset, disorder, change. Most of all, a giant pushback from those who are being challenged. Often when people rise up and speak this kind of truth, the pushback comes in the form of outrage, anger, and fury directed at those who are pointing out the flaws of the current system. At those moments, those who are the greatest supporters of the injustices become the loudest shouters that they are now being treated unjustly. When, in fact, what they are actually protecting, is their place of privilege and superiority.
As we have seen in so many examples in recent years, righteous anger is met by weaponized anger, escalating situations in order to defeat those who have been unjustly treated. Weaponized anger is always wrong and only ever leads to more violence and destruction and injustice. That is the reason so many great leaders, like Gandhi, like Jesus, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have refused to allow violence to be used in that way, demanding that all those who follow their teaching be non-violent in their resistance.
Lent is a good opportunity for personal and societal reflection. It is a good time to consider what “ticks me off?” Do my ire and my bile rise up appropriately because I am being treated unjustly? Or is it because I am one of the privileged and don’t want my exalted status threatened and even taken away? It is at this point we begin to see the interconnectedness of Jesus’ teachings and how he lived his life. Unless I can see every other human being as my equal, the world is unjust. And unless I am a tool for changing that inequality and ushering greater equality, even if I am doing nothing to support the inequality, in fact, I am supporting it. My “take no stand” supports the status quo.
We know from the life and death of Jesus and so many others that the work of our life in serving equality and truth is both exhausting and demands such a high price, even, for some, to the point of death.
M. Scott Peck pointed out in his writings that “life is not fair.” That is certainly the truth of all who live in this world. But the next steps in our response to that truth are hard. Speaking truth, living truth will exact a price. Consider right now how many people are insisting on certain lies because they like that version of reality better than the truth! And they are very willing to pay a lot to maintain those falsehoods. Even if it means destroying foundational values. Even if it means destroying the property and lives of those with whom they disagree.
For each of us this Lent, what is the “it”? What is the inappropriate anger I need to come to grips with? And the other side of that, what are the things about which I should be angry because they are creating or maintaining an unjust reality for me and others? That is the beginning of living the gospel that we are called to every Lent, and every day of our Christian life.
Anger can be a great tool for good when it fuels our passion -- when we know why we are angry and what we are willing to change in ourselves, first, and then what are we willing to fight for in the broader world in which we live.
Even before we get to the story of the Transfiguration in today’s gospel passage, we have that extraordinary opening line in the Epistle reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us?” This profession of faith puts everything into perspective. So we should not be completely surprised when, in the gospel reading, we read of Jesus taking a few disciples up the mountain where he was transfigured before their eyes, and with him appeared Moses and Elijah.
Like every moment of every day since the first Easter, even before the actual event happened, the grace of Easter was already being realized. Some scripture scholars call the Transfiguration a “misplaced resurrection account.” Perhaps “anticipatory” is a better description. But whatever we might title it, the effect is the same. We will always live in a world where the power of God’s love has already been seen and where Our Lord has gone, we are sure to follow.
When we speak of the Christian virtue of hope, this is what our hope is based upon. Through God, His Son was born into our world and lived among us, loving us and suffering and dying for that love which then became the source of everlasting life when he was raised from the dead. Where he has gone, we are certain to follow.
At this time of the liturgical year, I am reminded of the quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who, during the darkest days of apartheid, rallied the people by reminding them, “Don’t give up on hope. I’ve read to the end of the book. We win! We win!” It seems to me the Transfiguration is the embodiment of that hope. Even before the disciples had to face the horror of the cross, Jesus has strengthened them with this experience.
Having begun Lent with Jesus going into the desert, we now see where this journey will take us. Even though repentance is always challenging, creating within us uncertainty about what we might face if we change our behaviors, we are reminded to “Let it go….trust God.” God always is watching over us, loving us, leading us to eternal life.
~ Father Rich
Our prayer card this Lent features the Lenten theme: “Let it go….trust God!” with the icon of an anchor, the Christian symbol for hope. This symbol made a much greater impact when many early Christians lived close to bodies of water and fishing was a way of life.
Most of the disciples came from a background of being fishermen – probably for many generations. So it is important for us to look back to their daily experience. While we may think of an anchor as something like the parking brake of the automobile – something you put in place once you’ve parked the car, the anchor was far more important in the daily work of the fishermen, especially when the sea turned rough and the storms began to toss their small boats around. The anchor tethered the boat and its inhabitants to the earth. Once the anchor was dropped and the earth “caught” it, the boat was a much safer place to be. When the storm passed, you could still expect to safely be about where you were when it started up – but with a very changed and far more awakened sense of the power of nature and of God.
Hope is one of the three theological virtues, along with faith and charity (love). St. Paul’s reflection of these virtues in his letter to the Corinthians that we often hear at wedding celebrations points out what is most important in our lives if we are followers of Jesus. He concludes that beautiful reflection with these sentences, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Hope is the bridge connecting what we believe and how we live. It is what we cling to in difficult moments when faith is tested and life is threatened. Hope is the constant reminder that God is always with us, caring for us, loving us. It is this foundation that allows us to let go of our self-created truths in search of what God is inviting us to when we set about reforming our lives.
As we begin this Lent, the anchor we drop in the midst of turmoil is resting not on the earth’s foundation, but upon God. We are tethered to God as our foundation. God never abandons us. God is always with us. Let us trust God as we prepare for the new life which is the gift of Easter!
Our culture tells us to be our own persons, that we have to be self-sufficient and in control. But the last thing we have felt for the past year, and especially these past weeks, is “in control.” Our illusion of control can not only cut us off from the people and resources we need to live; it can cut us off from being able to hear the voice of God calling our name, affirming our relationship with God, and opening up the best paths for our journey. ~ Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP President, Paulist Evangelization Ministries
This will be our second Lenten season in a pandemic. As many people have observed, time in the pandemic is different. Parts seem to fly by, while other parts seem to drag on endlessly. So it might seem as if we were here just a few days ago.
Each year, we get this season to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. To do justice to that truth and miraculous event, we first must get ourselves renewed. We have to follow Jesus into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights in order to find our way back home once again.
For many of us, the pandemic has awakened or reawakened us both to how blessed we are, and how we have failed and need to reform our lives. On the blessing side has been a new awareness of the importance of people in our lives. The basic human need for touch, for friendship and love, for time spent together has never been clearer. Social distancing may be excellent for restraining a virus, but it is painful for our hearts. And so we have come to realize, as we were forced to slow down, to settle in, to learn and practice patience, that relationships are not only precious, they require work and attention. Every family member and friend, every neighbor and co-worker gives us a small peek into the presence of God among us. And with that awareness comes floods of gratitude and appreciation.
But this same pandemic also unmasked so much brokenness in our personal lives, in our families, in our communities, in our nation, in our world. It is not accidental that Black Lives Matter finally got a true hearing during these pandemic times. Our lives were finally stalled enough that we actually saw the scenes of violence against Black Americans and were truly shocked and revolted. If once we thought, “This is not who we are!”, now we know -- “This is who we are!”
The injustice of our own systems of justice, the Original Sin of racism is still so active and alive among and within us, the horrendous disparities in our schools, places of medicine, workplaces, and homes. This is the dark side of who we are. We either did not know or did not want to know about this side of ourselves and our nation.
But when we watched the toll of deaths and infection from the virus, we could not deny reality anymore. The Covid-19 virus may indeed sicken and kill people of every race and creed and color, but we now have the proof that in our nation it overwhelmingly strikes the poor, Black, Brown, and Native American -- it strikes all minorities in such aggressively unequal ways.
We are then forced to ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” And perhaps even more importantly, “How can we yet become the people we want to be?”
The Lenten focus we have chosen for this year is, “Let it go…..trust God.” This is a variation on the 12-step expression, “Let go and let God.” We start there because it is clear there is a serious illness in our society. Most of all, it is an illness of the spirit. And like all spiritual diseases, the only solution is spiritual. It has to involve me and my God. So we start at the beginning. We have to let go. We are not strong enough or smart enough or powerful enough to make it all better. We need help. We need God. And as soon as we know that truth, we can begin to identify just what “it” is that we need to let go of. While there may be a commonality for households and communities and even larger groups, what finally matters is the way each of us identifies what “it” is within me that I need to confront in order to let go.
Lent always begins in the desert. To paraphrase one of the Desert Fathers, “Everyone thinks the city is where all the action is. Nope! That’s just busyness. The real action is always in the desert.” The desert is the place we stop and are stripped down to the basics. Facades are pushed away, and we confront our real selves. And in each of us, part of that self is wonderful and beautiful and so hope-filled and loving. And in each of us, part of that self is dark and brooding, on the edge of despair and hostility, insecure and so prone to anger and violence. This darkness is what we have to bring into the light that it might be transformed. We can’t keep it contained anymore. The energy required for that containment is both exhausting and all-consuming. It prevents each of us from the positive, creative, life-giving stuff we could be doing. We have to let it go. We have to trust God.
It is the profound fear that if we trust God we will be punished, or worse, that most works against us living freely in the light of God’s love. But if we let “it” go, we will find ourselves unburdened, forgiven, loved. God never misdirects us. God always guides us on the right paths. Our seasonal psalm refrain says it so well, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.” (Psalm 25)
Let us begin this new Lenten season with the quiet confidence that God will continue to do what is best for us. Let us commit ourselves to using this time well to confront the darkness that we might expose it to the light. Let us let go of our need to control and to be right and to be in charge and leave that up to God. May each of us have a blessed and holy Lent!
During the Lenten season, we try to simplify all we are doing, including our public prayer, in order to more keenly focus on what is asked of us and what help we are asking from God in our repentance and reformation.
At the beginning of each of our Sunday liturgies, we start the Penitential Rite with a simple statement outlining our focus that week. We are then invited to kneel (the posture of repentance) for a brief time of silent, personal reflection, then we listen to the sung Kyrie, Eleison (Lord, have mercy….Christ, have mercy….Lord, have mercy). We then stand for the prayer of absolution and then the Opening Prayer.
After each of the scripture readings, we have a brief period of silence in which we are invited to collect ourselves in prayer, turning to and relying upon God’s help.
Our Seasonal Psalm after the First Reading each week is Psalm 75 whose refrain is, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.”
The Gospel Acclamation (replacing the Alleluia) is Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
The sung Mass parts will be from the Schubert’s Deutsche Mass.
As we have all learned since last March, the behaviors that keep us safe and healthy in this pandemic also mean that patterns of behaviors have had to change. We no longer shake hands or hug when we greet each other; we isolate ourselves from people we do not live with, and try to bring fresh air into wherever we are, and so on.
Just so, our liturgies have changed. As we enter into Lent, the behaviors of past years are not reliable touchstones for what we do today. The first hint of those changes was probably noticeable on the weekend before the feast of St. Blaise when the final blessing of Mass was the blessing of throats. But there was no allowance for individual blessings.
On the Fridays of Lent, for those praying the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 pm, the priest/minister will not invite any of those in church to walk with him/her. Everyone else must remain in their pew while the minister moves from Station to Station.
Registration is required the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, April 2. Please check-in at the greeter table using the door on Granville.
There are additional changes to the liturgies of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday). That information will be shared closer to Holy Week.
By the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, the Church keeps Lent from Ash Wednesday until the evening of Holy Thursday. All of the faithful and the catechumens should undertake the serious practice of these three traditions. Failure to observe penitential days totally or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.
Our US Bishops issued in 1966 this statement on penitential observance: "On weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and self-imposed observances of fasting. In light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part of our abundance.”
As we hear in the scripture readings on Ash Wednesday every year, the three penitential practices we follow in Lent are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. These three help us to let go of our control over everything we think we have control over in order to place our trust in God. This letting go allows God to help us be transformed.
There is no secret to prayer. It is simply a word that means we are spending time with God. Everything that follows is because others before us have shared their own experiences of prayer as a gift to help those who follow. Like all good relationships, communication requires of us the ability to quiet ourselves in order to listen to the other person.
For most of us, this is the hardest part of prayer. No sooner do we find a time and place to be quiet than we become aware of all the chattering in our own minds. That awareness is a good place to start – for that chattering is our life – and that is exactly what we want to bring to the Lord.
Over many centuries, people of faith have stumbled upon many disciplinary practices that they have found helpful in their own prayer life. The list is quite lengthy! Here are some suggestions for a variety of prayer you might consider during this Lenten season:
All the world’s great religions have stumbled onto certain universal truths. Fasting is one of those truths. One way of summing up all religious truth is to say that all religion is about one thing – allowing us the ability to freely choose to love God with all our mind and heart and soul. Fasting is about addressing the freedom part of that endeavor.
Not unlike our clothes closets and garages and basements, without quite knowing how or when, we discover we have accumulated lots of stuff that was meant to enhance our well-being, but over time, and collectively, have now become burdensome, leaving us unable to act as free agents.
Periodic fasting allows us to step clear of whatever is burdening us. Sometimes it is stuff. Sometimes it is behaviors. Sometimes is it hidden desires in our hearts and souls. For many centuries, the Church has established a set of regulations on food which lead us to how we can address all aspects of our lives. When we fast and abstain from certain parts of our regular diet, for even a few weeks, we become aware of how we become “prisoners” of certain things. Some of what we consume can even become addictive when we are unable to control how much of a certain thing we may partake in. These insights gained from our diet point the way, as well, to other behaviors that can assist us in being freed from other encumbrances.
Besides the Lenten Regulations for Fast and Abstinence, here are some other possibilities for this Lenten discipline:
That ‘Life is not fair” is hardly news. But as old as that truth is, equally old is the Judeo-Christian teaching which informs us that life is also lacking in justice and righteousness.
While no one of us can make life universally fair, each one of us has an obligation to do our part to help restore justice and re-establish righteousness. Giving to those in need helps that re-ordering. Feeding our hungry brothers and sisters produces justice.
The practice of almsgiving during Lent is a way to help us, throughout the entire year, work on justice. In a nutshell – we not only have more than we need, but our excess is also, at least in part, what is missing from the lives of our poor sisters and brothers.
Almsgiving is a way of softening our hearts to be more human and more humane. Here are a few possibilities for your consideration this Lent:
Lent begins on Sunday and the new season will bring about many changes into our liturgies as we try to deepen our faith and grow closer to God. This year, we will strive for a blend/mixture of old and new music as we remember our past traditions and start new ones. Here is a brief rundown:
In addition to these changes, we will also have 30 seconds of silence between the first and second reading and between the second reading the gospel acclamation so that we can truly reflect on the scripture readings that have just been proclaimed.
You will also find each week a mixture of Lenten standards and some new hymns. I hope that you will enjoy the music that has been selected for this season.
~ Mary Clare Barker, Music Minister
Lyrics and Copyright Info for Sunday, April 11, 2021 (pdf)Download
Readings for Sunday April 11 2021 (pdf)Download
E-Bulletin for Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021 (pdf)Download
Easter Sunday Readings (pdf)Download
Lyrics and Copyright Info for Good Friday, April 2 (pdf)Download
Lyrics and Copyright Info for Holy Saturday, April 3 (pdf)Download
Lyrics and Copyright Info for Easter Sunday, April 4 (pdf)Download
Lyrics and Copyright Info for Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021 (pdf)Download
E-Bulletin for Sunday, March 28 (pdf)Download
E-Bulletin for Sunday, March 21 (pdf)Download
E-Bulletin for Sunday, March 14 (pdf)Download
E-Bulletin for Sunday, March 7 (pdf)Download