FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “Our response to God’s superabundant forgiveness should be always to preserve that healthy tension between a dignified shame and a shamed dignity. It is the attitude of one who seeks a humble and lowly place, but who can also allow the Lord to raise him up for the good of the mission, without complacency.”
Ready or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on April 12th 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 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 Mass and at our Scripture Prayer Services. We approach for ashes after hearing God’s Word call us to repent and change our lives. 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. 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 make adjustments in 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, & Easter 2020” brochure was mailed to each household. Additional copies are available at the Hospitality Desk. 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 2020 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 daily meditations on the Sunday Gospels of Lent (Cycle A). 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. Additional Lenten devotional books (including one for children) are also available in the Narthex.
On this last weekend before Lent, we are asked to hold the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” for the 2020 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal – “Be Kind and Merciful.” 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, following which we will have the opportunity to pledge our commitment to this year’s Appeal. In order to reach our parish goal of $173,800, it is important that as many participate in the Appeal as possible. Please make a commitment to the 2020 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal 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 2020 Parish Mission will be offered next weekend, beginning at the Saturday evening Masses and concluding on Tuesday, March 3rd. We are very happy to welcome Father Richard Fragomeni back to our parish. He is a priest of the Diocese of Albany, NY. He has been a member of the Chicago Catholic Theological Union faculty since 1990. There he is Professor of Liturgy and Preaching and Chair of the Department of Word and Worship. Father Fragomeni is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, Chicago. He also serves as the Rector of The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, an Italian-American spiritual center in Chicago’s historic Little Italy. He is preaching at each of our weekend Masses and then will lead us each evening of the Mission. Please plan on joining us for as many evenings as possible during this special time for our parish.
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