Ready or not, this Wednesday is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on April 1st 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 presenting ourselves 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 as we were buried in the font and as we rose from the grave of baptism we were given new life as God’s adopted sons and daughters. 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 “2018 Lent, Holy Week & Easter Liturgies and Events” 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, 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 2018 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 Passion according to Mark. 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 2018 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal (CMAA). The theme for this year’s appeal is “Partners in Caring.” Appeal materials were mailed to our homes over the past several weeks. Now, on this last weekend before Lent, we are asked to hold the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” for the 2018 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 2018 CMAA goal of $179,200. 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, after which we will have a chance to make our in-pew response. In 2017, through the increased participation of 1,089 households (1,047 in 2016) and your incredible generosity, we surpassed our goal in paid pledges and we received a rebate of over $8000, which we have applied to parish ministries. Please make a commitment to the 2018 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.
Just a few weeks until our St. Isidore Gala, “An Evening Under the Stars.” It will be held on Saturday, February 24th at Empress Banquets in Addison. The Gala is our annual auction dinner and dance benefiting our parish school will be held on Saturday, February 24th at Empress Banquets in Addison and is now being held as a parish-wide event. Everyone is invited! This is the single, unifying parish event which allows us all to come together and celebrate our St. Isidore parish community together. Tickets are available for $75 per person. “An Evening Under the Stars” begins at 5:00pm with Silent Auction bidding, Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Dinner and the Live Auction items follow. It promises to be a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with fellow parishioners. Please consider joining with us or even gathering a table of your friends. 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