A word from Saint Pope John Paul II ~ “During Lent, we prepare to relive the Paschal Mystery, which sheds the light of hope upon the whole of our existence, even its most complex and painful aspects.”
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 both on Ash Wednesday and last Sunday’s First Sunday of Lent, 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.
One of our Lenten customs is to pray for those who will be celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil and becoming Catholics. Those who have never been baptized (“Elect”) celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Those who have been previously baptized in other Christian churches (“Candidates”) make a Profession of Faith and are received into the church, and then celebrate the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Today, on the Second Sunday of Lent, we join with the Candidates at the 10:00am Mass and celebrate a Penitential Rite. We publically support them with our prayers as they prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent and the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Congratulations to Elida Evangelista, Roberto Guillen and Lisa Zielinski as they take this next in their lives. As they spend this Lent in preparation for their welcome 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.
I spent some time last Wednesday in the Mid-Week column reflecting on the great experience of our 2021 St. Isidore Centennial Virtual Gala and Silent Auction – “There’s No Place Like Home.” During our initial plans for our centennial year, we were hoping to make the annual Dinner Dance / Auction the centerpiece of our parish Centennial celebration. Like many other things this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans. Knowing that we would not be able to gather in-person for a traditional Gala / Auction, we began to re-imagine what could be possible. Our virtual gathering surpassed our expectations. From the Saturday 5:00pm Mass with Deacon Dan Defino’s homily, to the transformation of the church space to the multiple pre-recorded segments that Tom Norton filmed and edited, to the Fund-A-Cause appeal, the live auction, the drawing of the Grand Raffle winners and the final bell, the evening was awesome. Thank you again to Tom Norton who spent hours recording and then editing the pre-recorded segments of memories, greetings and historical segments that were a major part of the evening. Thank you our on-site crew that kept the evening flowing as we moved from one live event to the next. And thank you to each of you who made your generous bids and donations throughout the evening. If you were unable to watch the virtual Gala live, it has been archived on our parish website. While the auctions are over, “Fund A Cause” donations are still welcome and being accepted.
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 Sunday Gospels of Lent (Cycle B), and to give six minutes a day back to the Lord in quiet reflective prayer. We still have a few copies left in the Narthex – both English and Spanish. They are available at no charge.
As we prepare to renew our Baptism commitment at Easter, Lent is an ideal time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Regular times for this sacrament during Lent are the Fridays of Lent following the 7:00am Mass (7:30-8:30am) and Saturdays following the 8:15am Mass (8:45-10:00am). Additional times have been scheduled in March during the weeks leading up to Easter.
During these days of face masks, social distancing and reservations for in-person Sunday Masses, we have found that our largest Sunday Mass is the 11:30 am Spanish Mass. Once reservations for a given Sunday open, that Mass fills up first. We have received a number of requests to resume our Saturday 6:30pm Spanish Mass. Even though it had traditionally been a much smaller Mass than the Sunday Mass, those attending the Saturday evening Mass would open up some space to allow more people to attend the Sunday Spanish Mass. You spoke and we listened. So beginning Saturday, April 10th, we will be restoring the 6:30pm Saturday evening Mass in Spanish. April 10th is the Saturday following Easter Sunday.
Another COVID-19 casualty – with the seating in our church significantly reduced due to social distancing, we are not able to offer our usual in-person Lent Parish Mission this year. Hopefully Lent 2022 will give us an opportunity to restore this custom.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our social media to keep up-to-date with all that is happening here. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy