March 10, 2024

It doesn’t seem possible that we are already observing the Fourth Sunday of Lent today. We are now past the half way point of this season. During these middle weeks of Lent, we continue to focus our attention on the ways God helps us to respond to the call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus and the call to conversion. The main image in the Scripture readings of this week is the image of light. We are called to see as God sees. As we heard in today’s Gospel, God’s desire is that we all experience life and salvation in his Son. We were made for life and God sent his Son among us so that we might live in his light and to bring us to eternal life. God sent his son Jesus into our world to be a light that leads us to the Father. We pray for the grace to see ourselves and our world as God sees us.

“We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a church becomes like this, it grows sick.”

Pope Francis

As our Lenten Penitential Rite at Mass reminds us, Lent is the primary season of reconciliation within the church year. One of the best ways for us to prepare for the renewal of our Baptism commitment at Easter is by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lenten times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are on Saturdays following the 8:15 am Mass until 10:00 am. We have added additional times on the Fridays of Lent, following the 7:00 am Mass until 8:30 am and after the 12:05 pm Mass until 1:30 pm. Our Grade School students and Confirmation candidates have already been given opportunities for Reconciliation. Faith Formation students will have an opportunity for the sacrament this week during their regular sessions. Our parish Lent Reconciliation Service will be a week from Monday, on March 18 at 7:00 pm and all are welcome to attend. Additional times are scheduled during Holy Week. This season is an ideal time for each of us to celebrate this powerful sacrament of God’s healing.

We remember in our Lenten prayer all those who spend this Lent in preparation for their initiation into the church community at the Easter Vigil. We do this in a public and formal way with the celebration of the Scrutinies, or Rites of Inner Healing, with our Elect during the middle weeks of Lent. Today, we celebrate the Second Scrutiny at the 10:00 am Mass. The great coming-to-faith stories in the Cycle A Readings lead us in our celebration of the Scrutinies. For the Second Scrutiny, we are guided by the Gospel of the man born blind. His story is really the story of those who are preparing for their Baptism. Next week, we’ll celebrate the third and final Scrutiny at the 10:00 am Mass. We promise to support our Elect (Nathan Figueroa, Lorena Scaletta and Kevin Gonzalez) and Candidate for Full Communion (Madison Shoemaker) with our prayers throughout this special season of preparations.

Many of us have been using Bishop Ken Untener’s “Little Black Book” during these past few weeks of Lent. The Lenten “Little Books” have given us daily six-minute reflections on the Passion according to Luke. We will have copies of the “Little White Book” for the Easter Season available next weekend. The “Little White Book” begins on April 1, Easter Monday, and provides us with daily six-minute Scripture reflections. The Easter season will conclude on Pentecost Sunday. The books will be in the Narthex of the Church and are an excellent guide for us “to spend some quite time with the Lord.”   

This weekend, we have the opportunity to join with Catholic parishes throughout our diocese in responding to the annual Catholic Relief Services Collection. Funds raised through this annual collection go directly to Catholic Relief Services and are used to make an immediate response to natural disasters as they occur throughout the world. Envelopes for this collection were included in the packets mailed to our homes. Additional contributions may be made by using the white pew envelopes and through our parish web site. Thank you for your generous response to this annual appeal.

As Lent progresses, let us continue to pray for and support each other in our Lenten practices. Know that your priests pray for you each day. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy