March 17, 2024

As we observe the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we enter into the third and final part of the season. We began on Ash Wednesday by hearing the call to fully enter into this season with everything that we’ve got and to embrace the traditional penances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This invitation was repeated throughout the first two weeks of Lent. Then, as we realized that we could not do all this on our own, we were reassured that the Lord would give us all that we need to respond to his call.

“Trusting in God’s timing enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. …  It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitations.”

Pope Francis

During the Third and Fourth weeks of Lent, our focus shifted to the sacraments, the ways in which God would redeem us. Multiple images of water, light and life in the daily Scripture readings reminded us of the life God gave us in the Sacrament of Baptism, which helped to prepare us for the Easter Vigil Baptisms of the Elect and our own renewal of our Baptism commitment.

In these final weeks of Lent, our attention shifts to the Cross. Many might be surprised to hear that the Cross has not been a focal point in Lent until this weekend. Up to this point, the Lenten focus has been upon our call to change. Now, our Scripture readings and Mass prayers remind us of the great price by which we were redeemed. God delivered his own Son, the innocent Lamb, into our hands as the gift offered for our redemption. God faithfully loved us when we were at our worst. Our Scripture readings this week will set the stage for our hearing of the Passion according to Mark next Sunday on Palm/Passion Sunday. We now turn our full attention toward the Cross. These final days of Lent lead us into the Triduum, the three-day commemoration of the dying and rising of the Lord. These are the holiest days of the church year. Let us do all that we can to live them well.

We remember in our Lenten prayer those who spend this Lent in preparation for their initiation into the church community at the Easter Vigil. We celebrate the Third and final Scrutiny with our “Elect” at the 10:00 am Mass today. Within our own parish community, the “Elect” and the Candidates for Full Communion are in the final stages of their journey to become Catholics. 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.

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. Our parish Lent Reconciliation Service will be on Monday, March 18 at 7:00 pm. Regular 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. Additional times during Holy Week will be on Tuesday, March 26 from 7:30-8:30 am, 12:30-1:30 pm and 6:00-7:00 pm, and on Wednesday, March 27 from 7:30-8:30 am and 12:30-1:30 pm. This season is an ideal time for each of us to celebrate this powerful sacrament of God’s healing.

Copies of the “Little White Book” for our Easter Season individual prayer are available in the Narthex. The “Little White Book” begins on April 1, Easter Monday, and provides us with daily six-minute Scripture reflections on the Resurrection narratives according to Matthew. The Easter season will conclude on Pentecost Sunday. They are an excellent guide for us “to spend some quite time with the Lord.”   

Join with us this afternoon for our 61st Annual St. Joseph’s Table, sponsored by our CCW, in the Ministry Center from 2:00-5:00 pm.

During these final weeks of Lent, let us continue to pray for and support each other in our Lenten practices, especially the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 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