Today we mark the Second Sunday of Lent. Our Gospel reading on this weekend gives us Mark’s account of Jesus’ Transfiguration. It is a moment of glory when everything in Jesus’ life came together. Coming at this point in our Lenten journey, it is meant to give us a sneak-peak of the glory that Jesus won for us through his death and resurrection. And it will be ours if we are faithful in living our call to be Jesus’ disciples. Our personal moments of glory, brief as they may be, when it seems as if everything in our life comes together, are hints of what awaits us in God’s Kingdom.
During these early weeks of Lent, the Scripture readings and Mass prayers at our weekday Masses invite us to seriously respond to the call to conversion of heart that we heard on Ash Wednesday and to continue in our efforts to enter into the season as best we can. We are called to turn away from our sinfulness and to turn towards God. The traditional Lenten penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are held up before us as excellent ways of responding to this challenge to faithfully live the Lenten season.
When it comes to Lenten prayer, many of us are using the “Little Black Book” for our personal prayer during this season. It is a very good way for us to reflect upon the Passion of Luke’s Gospel and to give six minutes a day back to the Lord. It is very encouraging to see these “Little Books” used by so many in our community.
In addition to spending additional time in personal prayer, have you considered the possibility of additional community prayer through weekday Mass? Masses during the week are celebrated in the church at 7:00am and 12:05pm, Monday through Friday, and at 8:15am on Saturday. Weekday Masses are much simpler than Sunday Masses and normally run about 25-30 minutes. They are a great way to begin the day or a good pause at mid-day. Another option is the weekly Grade School Mass on Wednesdays at 8:15am. This Mass normally runs about 45-50 minutes and is another great opportunity for Mass during the week.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who responded to Bishop Conlon’s homily and pledged two weeks ago during the in-pew “Commitment Weekend.” As I said on “Commitment Weekend,” our parish has not reached our goal over the past several years. Parishes with larger goals than ours have surpassed their goal. Parishes with goals just behind us have also surpassed their goal. We stand alone among the largest parishes in the diocese in not reaching our goal. I also said we are looking for 100% participation in the Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, even if a family’s participation is “I do not wish to contribute at this time.” Since our original “Commitment Weekend” was over one of the recent Arctic Blast weekends, and a number of parishioners were not able to be with us for Mass that weekend, we will be conducting the “Follow-Up Weekend” on March 14-15. Following the Sunday homily, our parish administrator, Tom Norton, will be providing an opportunity for those who have yet to participate in the Appeal. Again, the Campaign’s primary objective is participation. Parishes that have surpassed their goal have had a higher participation level than we have. We want to give each parishioner another opportunity to participate. I hope that there will be far fewer “non-participants” from our parish than in previous years. This Appeal is the major source of funding for all of our Diocesan ministries and charities. We need to step and meet our obligations to the diocese, just as other parishes around us have. Please join me in responding to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
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 8:15am Mass until 10:00am. There will be an opportunity to celebrate this sacrament as a community at our Lenten Reconciliation Service on Monday, March 23rd. Lenten Reconciliation Services have been scheduled for next Tuesday with the students of our Grade School and began this past week with our Faith Formation classes. This season is an ideal time for each of us to celebrate this powerful sacrament of God’s healing.
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