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 experience 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 Fridays following the 12:05pm Mass until 1:30pm and 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 next Monday, March 19th at 7:00pm. Lenten Reconciliation Services will be celebrated with our Grade School students this Thursday and with our Confirmation candidates next Sunday evening in place of the Teen Mass. 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 during the middle weeks of Lent with the celebration of the Scrutinies, or Rites of Inner Healing with our Elect. 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 Eucharist. Their photos will soon be 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 2nd, 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 quiet time with the Lord.”
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. We will tithe 5% of today’s Sunday collection to this appeal. Please add your donation to your regular Sunday contribution. Or if you wish, you can make a separate donation using the envelope included in the packets mailed to our homes or one of the white envelopes in the pews. Thank you for your generous response to this annual appeal.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day next Saturday and Happy St. Joseph’s Day on Monday, March 19th 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 18th, 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