A word from Pope Francis ~ “Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes.”
On this first Sunday of March, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Lent and shift our gears in our Lenten journey. Throughout the past week the daily Scripture readings have been our guide. Last Sunday, the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration gave us a glimpse of the glory to which each of us is called. On Monday, we were given the path to that glory – stop judging, stop condemning, forgive. Tuesday – do not perform works in order to be noticed. Wednesday – if we take this path seriously, expect opposition and persecution. Thursday – trust that God will help us in our efforts to change. Friday – if we ignore the invitation, the invitation will be given to others who will respond. And Saturday – while we can’t succeed on our own, God’s overwhelming gift of forgiveness can overcome our failures.
Once we realize that we cannot make the changes in our lives that we would like to make on our own, we are reminded that God is on our side and working with us. God has taken many steps to bring us back. The primary image in the Scripture readings during this week is the image of water – a symbol of new life. We remember how God gave us new life in our Baptism. This third week of Lent invites us to look back at what God initially did for us in the past and to look ahead to the Easter Vigil when we will renew our Baptism promises.
Following his recent apostolic letter Patris Corde – “With a Father’s Heart” – Pope Francis declared A Year of St. Joseph, observed from December 8, 2020 through December 8, 2021. Inspired by that, an anonymous parishioner has donated a new statue of St. Joseph for our church. We already have a statue of him at the front of the chapel next to Mary giving us the Holy Family. But we did not have a statue of St. Joseph in the church. Our parish facilities crew is currently building a stand for the statue that will be placed in the front of the church between the choir space and the statue of Mary.
With the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary coming up on Friday, March 19th, we hope to bless the new statue of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. This will take place at the 7:00am daily Mass on his feast day. While the COVID pandemic prevents us from holding our traditional St. Joseph’s Table this year, we are able to honor the Year of St. Joseph with the addition of this statue in our church.
Additional good news – since the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on a Friday in Lent this year, the normal obligation to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent does not apply. A “Solemnity” is at the top of the list of our progression of feasts, and its celebration overrides lesser feasts and memorials. Celebrate the day well!
While it looks like the pandemic restrictions of face masks and social distancing may be with us for the next few months, we are looking ahead to our observance of Holy Week this year. Advance reservations for in-person attendance at Sunday Mass will continue to be the “new normal” through Lent, Holy Week and Easter. We will continue our practice of live streaming our 10:00am English and 11:30am Spanish Sunday Masses. On Palm Sunday and Easter we will celebrate simultaneous Masses at those hours in the Ministry Center. While maintaining the social distancing restrictions in the church, we want to provide the opportunity for as many people as possible to join us for in-person prayer on both Palm Sunday and Easter.
Every three years the Joliet Diocesan Finance Office conducts an audit at each parish in the diocese. Since it has been three years since our last audit, our turn came up again. Our parish audit was conducted over the past two weeks. While it will be a few weeks before we receive the final report, initial impressions were very positive. Once we receive that report, we will provide a summary report of our Stewardship of our parish.
Looking ahead – we are in the midst of celebrating the 100th anniversary of of the founding of St. Isidore parish. While the COVID pandemic has greatly altered our plans for celebrating this significant event, our year-long celebration will close on Saturday, May 15, 2021 – the Feast of St. Isidore. We have invited Bishop Ron Hicks to join us for the 5:00pm Mass that day to conclude our celebration. He has accepted our invitation and we are looking forward to his being with us then. The plans we made prior to the pandemic for this celebration are not possible at this point – especially the plans for after the Mass. But the Bishop will be with us and we are hoping to close our centennial year as best as possible. Save the date – Saturday, May 15, 2021, 5:00pm Mass. It will be here before we know it.
Next Sunday we will 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. Envelopes for this collection were included in the packets mailed to our homes for those receiving envelopes. Additional contributions may be made through our parish web site. Thank you for your generous response to this annual appeal.
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.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our parish Facebook page. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy