Ready or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on April 5th this year, it is time to begin the season of Lent this Wednesday. Masses on Wednesday will be celebrated at 7:00am, 8:15am with the Grade School community and 12:05pm. Additional Prayer Services with the Distribution of Ashes have been scheduled throughout the day, including an evening Spanish service. The complete schedule is printed in our Lenten brochure, which is inserted into today’s bulletin. Ashes are normally distributed following the homily at Mass and at our Scripture Prayer Services. We approach for ashes after hearing God’s Word call us to repent and change our lives. Please note the Lenten regulations which are also printed in the brochure.
Lent is the forty day season of preparation for the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday). It is difficult to understand Lent without understanding the Triduum. At its heart, the Triduum celebrates the dying and rising of the Lord. We first shared in the Lord’s dying and rising when we were baptized. We were given new life as God’s adopted sons and daughters. And since we don’t fully live our lives as God’s children, we need the season of Lent to renew that life within us.
So Lent is ultimately a forty-day preparation for the renewal of our baptism commitment at Easter. It is a steady season of growth, a marathon, not a sprint! Lenten practices are meant to be done as a preparation for the renewal of baptism at Easter, and not as an end in themselves. It is our annual opportunity to fine-tune our lives as God’s beloved children. We seek to change the things that need to be changed so that we can make an honest recommitment of our baptism. Lent calls us to grow.
Our parish “Lent 2015 – Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving” brochure is inserted in this bulletin. Additional copies are available at the Hospitality Desk. Besides some background articles on this major season of the church year, many opportunities for the traditional Lenten practices of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving are listed. It also contains our parish calendar of Masses, devotions, times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Adult Faith Formation offerings. Please refer to it often during the season as we make our journey to the Easter Holy Days.
One of the traditional ways of preparing for Easter is through time spent in individual personal prayer. As an added help, we have copies of “The Little Black Book” for Lent 2015 available for your Lenten prayer. Many have found these “Little Books” to be very helpful in their daily prayer during the major seasons of the Church Year. This year’s book for Lent gives us six-minute daily meditations on the Passion according to Luke. The six-minute program begins this weekend and gives us three days to get ready for Lent. They are available in both English and Spanish in the Narthex of the Church.
This Saturday we have a wonderful opportunity for coming together during the cold winter months. Our St. Isidore Dinner Dance and Silent Auction – “Magic Carpet Ride” – will be held on Saturday, February 21st at the Klein Creek Golf Club on Pleasant Hill Road in Winfield. It promises to be a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with fellow parishioners. Additional information for last minute tickets is available elsewhere in the bulletin.
On this last weekend before Lent, we are asked to hold the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” for the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. This Appeal is the major source of funding for all of our Diocesan ministries and charities. Bishop Conlon has prepared a recorded homily for us this weekend, following which we will have the opportunity to pledge our commitment to this year’s Appeal. As we have not reached our parish goal during the past several years, it is important that as many participate in the Appeal as possible. Other parishes with goals in the same neighborhood as ours have not only reached their goal, but surpassed it! Please make a commitment to the 2015 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal at the highest level you are able to. My commitment has already been made; I am asking you to join me in fulfilling our responsibilities to our larger, Diocesan Church.
If you have not had a chance to return your 2015 Stewardship of Time commitment card, please either mail it to the Parish Office or bring it to Mass this weekend. With Lent beginning this week, this is an ideal time to recommit ourselves to returning a portion of the 1440 minutes God gives us each day in prayer. Again, thank you for your personal commitments to being good stewards of the time God has so generously blessed each of us with each day.
Let’s commit ourselves to enter into Lent as best as we can and make it a good season of growth. A number of wonderful opportunities are scheduled. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy