FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
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 find 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.
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 already been celebrated with our Grade School students and each of our Faith Formation classes. 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’ll celebrate the Second Scrutiny at the 11:30am Spanish Mass. Even though we are currently hearing the Cycle B Readings this year, we read the Cycle A Readings in our celebration of the Scrutinies. This Cycle gives us the traditional “coming to faith” stories that were used to prepare those to be baptized in the early church. For the Second Scrutiny, we hear the account of the Man Born Blind from John’s Gospel. Like him, we are brought from the darkness of sin into the light of faith through our Baptism. His story is really the story of those who are preparing for their Baptism. The Elect and Candidates are living signs of the conversion and change of heart that we are all called to make this Lent. We promise them the support of our prayers throughout this season and look forward to the time when they can join with us at the table of the Lord. Their photos are now displayed in the Narthex.
Many of us have been using Bishop Ken Untener’s “The 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 now have copies of “The Little White Book” available for the Easter Season. “The Little White Book” begins on April 6th, Easter Monday, and provides us with daily six-minute Scripture reflections. The Easter season will conclude on Pentecost Sunday. They will be available next weekend in the Narthex of the Church and are an excellent guide for us “to spend some quite time with the Lord.”
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 during the in-pew “Commitment Weekend.” Our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. If you haven’t had a chance to respond to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, please do so as soon as possible. Due to the snow threat a few weeks ago, our “Follow-Up In Pew Weekend” was rescheduled to this weekend. Following the homily, our parish administrator, Tom Norton, will provide an opportunity to respond for those who have yet to participate in the Appeal . The Campaign’s primary objective is participation. 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.” Please join me in responding to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
This weekend we are able 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 appeal are included in the packets mailed to our homes. Thank you for your generous response to this annual appeal.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday and Happy St. Joseph’s Day on Thursday to all who live under the patronage of these great saints. They are great examples of faith. Our parish’s St. Joseph’s Table, sponsored by our Council of Catholic Women will be held next Sunday, March 22nd, beginning at 2:00pm. Additional information is elsewhere in the bulletin.
Many additional things are happening in our parish at this time of year. All are described elsewhere in the bulletin. Please take time to read about them.
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