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.”
Besides this being Valentine’s Day weekend and Presidents’ Day weekend, we celebrate the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. This is our final “green Sunday” as the season of Lent begins this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday.
Ready or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on April 4th this year, it is time to begin the season of Lent this Wednesday. Masses on Wednesday will be celebrated at 6:30am, 8:15am with the Grade School community and 12:00noon in English and 7:30pm in Spanish. Each of our Masses will be live streamed for those unable to join us in-person. Additional Prayer Services with the Distribution of Ashes have been scheduled at 3:30pm, 5:00pm and 6:30pm. 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.
As with everything else this year, the COVID-19 restrictions apply to our Ash Wednesday Masses and schedule of prayer services. Face masks and social distancing remain the norm during this time of the pandemic. We received specific instructions from the Bishop for the distribution of ashes this year. Instead of applying ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead, a pinch of ashes will be sprinkled over the crown of the head of each person. This “contactless distribution” is intended for the protection and safety of both the minister and the person receiving the ashes. Reservations are required for each of our Masses and prayer services, as well as the usual sanitizing of the church following each event. By following all of these steps makes it possible for us to be certified for in-person prayer in our church. Reservations for each of our Ash Wednesday services opened last Wednesday, February 10th. We are unable to accept reservations for the 8:15am Mass with the Grade School community as they will fill the church. I thank you in advance for your understanding, patience and cooperation as we continue to provide a safe environment for us to gather for in-person prayer.
Lent is our forty-day season of preparation for the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday). At its heart, the Triduum celebrates the dying and rising of the Lord – God’s triumph over death. 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 often fail to live as God’s children, we need the season of Lent to renew that life within us.
Lent is our annual opportunity to take the next step in our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus. Lent calls us to grow and focus our attention on the things that really matter. How easy it is to let the urgent things of life distract us from the truly important things. As we approach our springtime celebration of Life, our church holds those truly important things before us, challenging us to become better disciples of the Lord Jesus day by day.
Last Sunday we joined with the other parishes and missions in the Diocese of Joliet for Announcement Sunday for the 2021 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. I spoke about the various ministries and charities in the diocese that are funded by the Annual Appeal. One of the biggest expenses facing the diocese is seminarian education. We are blessed to have a large number of college and graduate level seminarians studying for our diocese. Their seminary formation is funded by the Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Today is Commitment Sunday. We have received a video homily from Bishop Hicks that will be shown at each Mass this weekend. Since pandemic restrictions prohibit us from providing any paper items in the church, we will not have an in-pew commitment this year. Everything is being done through the US Mail. The Diocesan Development Office sent out a letter this past week to each parishioner explaining the pledge process for this year. Our parish goal for the 2021 CMAA is $167,300. The diocesan goal for the Appeal is $8.2 million. All registered parishioners should have received the 2021 mailing from Bishop Hicks. If you haven’t already returned your pledge card to the diocese, please do so as soon as possible. Mine was mailed in early January when I received the pledge materials from Bishop Hicks. Please join me in supporting the 2021 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal.
This is the week and Saturday is the date – our St. Isidore Centennial Virtual Gala and Silent Auction – “There’s No Place Like Home” – will take place this Saturday, February 20th. It begins with 5pm Mass and continues with a full one-hour program. We were hoping to make this annual Dinner Dance the centerpiece of our parish Centennial celebration, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans. This event benefits the educational ministries of our St. Isidore Parish Grade School. Last minute information is available at the parish and school websites.
The Presidents Day holiday on Monday provides us with a welcome change of pace. Our parish office will be closed for the day and reopen on Tuesday morning. Enjoy the holiday.
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 before us. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy