Ready or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on March 27th 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 Scripture Prayer Services with the Distribution of Ashes have been scheduled throughout the day, including an evening Spanish service. The complete schedule is printed elsewhere in the bulletin. Ashes are normally distributed following the homily at both Mass and at our Scripture Prayer Services. We hear God’s Word calling us to repent and change our lives and respond by approaching for ashes. Please note the Lenten regulations which are also printed elsewhere in the bulletin.
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. Our former selves died and 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, Holy Week and Easter Liturgies and Events 2016” brochure was mailed to each of our families last week. 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 (especially during The Jubilee Year of Mercy as proclaimed by Pope Francis), 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 2016 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 reflections on the Weekday Gospels of Lent. 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.
Many of us have already received Bishop Conlon’s invitation to participate in the 2016 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal (CMAA). The theme for this year’s appeal is “Chosen by God’s Grace.” Appeal materials were mailed to our homes over the past two weeks. Now, on this last weekend before Lent, we are asked to hold the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” for the 2016 Joliet Diocesan CMAA. If you have not mailed your response back yet, you will have a chance to do so at Mass today. We are doing everything possible to reach our 2016 CMAA goal of $171,242. That can be possible with the participation of each family in our parish.
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. He has asked that I lead you in making your in-pew response. We reached and surpassed last year’s goal due to an increase in the number of parishioners participating in the Appeal. Please make a commitment to the 2016 CMAA 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.
Our St. Isidore Kairos 13 retreat (STIK 13) will take place next weekend over the Presidents’ Day holiday. This is an incredible retreat experience for high school Juniors and Seniors. Our retreatants will depart on Friday evening for the Carmelite Retreat Center in Darien, and return on Monday evening. Our adult and teen leaders have been working hard preparing for this retreat since early January! We are truly blessed to be able to offer this retreat at the parish level. I am grateful that I will be able to be with our retreat candidates and leaders for most of the retreat. Fathers Matt and Clive will join us for Reconciliations on Sunday evening. It is not too early to offer our prayers for our candidates and leaders on this retreat. Please keep our Kairos 13 retreat intention in your prayers this week as final preparations are being made.
Also coming up, we have a wonderful opportunity for coming together during the dreary winter months. “The Great Gala 2016” – Dinner Dance and Silent Auction will be held on Saturday, February 27th at Belvedere Events & Banquets on Devon Avenue in Elk Grove Village. The banquet facility is located next door to the Country Inn and Suites which provides a nice option for those who would like to stay overnight. The Great Gala 2016 begins at 5:30pm with Silent Auction bidding, Hors D’Oeuvres and cocktails. Dinner and the Great Live Auction items follow. It promises to be a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with fellow parishioners. Additional information is available elsewhere in the bulletin.
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