Today we mark the Second Sunday of Lent. Our Gospel reading 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, this Gospel is a bit like an hors d’oeuvres — it is meant to give us a sneak-peak of the glory that Jesus won for us through his death and resurrection. And it is promised to us if we are faithful in living our call to be Jesus’ disciples. Our personal moments of glory, those moments when it seems as if everything in our life comes together, brief as they may be, 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. The initial invitation is repeated again and again. We are called to deepen our response as disciples of the Lord Jesus. We are called to take the next step in our life-long task of turning away from our sinfulness and turning towards our 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.
Last weekend at out 5:00pm Saturday Mass, we affirmed the progress of our catechumens in the RCIA process and formally sent them to the diocesan Rite of Election, last Sunday at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. Congratulations to Maheen Kahn, Paul Kennedy, Jorge Lopez and Jose Zaldivar, now known as The Elect. They were formally called to celebrate the Easter Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil on March 31st. As they spend this Lent in preparation for their initiation into our community at Easter, they are living signs of the conversion that we are all called to experience this Lent. We promise them the support of our prayers this Lent.
Our parish “2018 Lent, Holy Week & Easter Liturgies and Events” brochure was mailed to each of our families. 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.
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 according to Mark 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 both English and Spanish.
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 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 2018 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who responded to Bishop Conlon’s homily and pledged during our recent in-pew “Commitment Weekend.” In spite of the snow and decreased church attendance on “Commitment Weekend,” we are off to a good start in reaching our parish goal. As this Appeal is the major source of funding for all of our Diocesan ministries and charities, we are doing everything possible to reach our 2018 CMAA goal of $179,200. As we saw last year, we can reach our parish goal in paid pledges with the participation of each family in our parish. In order to allow everyone an opportunity to participate, we will be conducting a “Follow-Up Commitment Weekend” after Easter. If you haven’t had a chance to pledge yet, please do so as soon as possible. Envelopes are available at the Hospitality Desk and at the Parish Office. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
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