A word from Pope Francis ~ “Life is a journey. When we stop, things don’t go right.”
As we observe the Fifth Sunday of Lent this weekend, we enter into the third and final part of the season. To help us see the bigger picture, I’d like to spend some time looking back on where we have been in this season and then look forward.
We began this holy season on Ash Wednesday by hearing the call to fully enter into this season with everything that we’ve got and to embrace the traditional penances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This invitation was repeated throughout the first two weeks of Lent. Then, as we realized that we could not do all this on our own, we were reassured that the Lord would give us all that we need to respond to his call.
During the Third and Fourth weeks of Lent our daily Scripture readings shifted our focus to the sacraments, the ways in which God would redeem us. Multiple images of water, light and life in the daily Scripture readings reminded us of the life God gave us in the Sacrament of Baptism and helped to prepare us for the Easter Vigil Baptisms of the Elect and our own renewal of our Baptism commitment.
Now, in these final weeks of Lent, our attention shifts to the Cross. Many might be surprised to hear that the Cross has not been a focal point in Lent until this weekend. Up to this point, the Lenten focus has been upon our call to change. Beginning tomorrow, our Scripture readings and Mass prayers remind us of the great price by which we were redeemed. God delivered his own Son, the innocent Lamb of God, into our hands as the sacrifice offered for our redemption. God faithfully loved us when we were at our worst. Our Scripture Readings this week will set the stage for our reading of the Passion according to Mark next Sunday on Palm/Passion Sunday. We can find those daily Scripture readings on-line at our U.S. Bishops’ website. We now turn our full attention toward the Cross. These final days of Lent lead us into our Holy Week prayer – the three-day commemoration of the dying and rising of the Lord. These are the holiest days of the church year. Let us do all that we can to live these holy days well. They can be a tremendous source of hope in these times of the pandemic.
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 are on Saturdays following the 8:15am daily Mass until 10:00am. Additional times during Lent are on the Fridays of Lent following the 7:00am Mass (7:30-8:30am). Since we are unable to hold our regular Lent Reconciliation Service, additional times have been scheduled for this week on Monday (7:00-8:30pm) and Wednesday (3:00-5:00pm). Additional times during Holy Week will be on Tuesday, March 30th (3:00-5:00pm) and Wednesday, March 31st (7:00-9:00pm).
During this Year of St. Joseph, we have been gifted with a statue of St. Joseph for our church. Friday, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I blessed the new statue at the 7:00am daily Mass. 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. Please see the parish website to make a contribution to the Virtual St. Joseph Table with the St. Isidore CCW. Proceeds benefit PADS and Neighborhood Food Pantries.
We have received a new set of guidelines for the safe celebrations of Palm Sunday, the Easter Triduum and Easter Sunday. While we will have palms available next Sunday on Palm Sunday, we won’t be able to distribute them until after each Mass. We will have additional hospitality ministers at the exits of both the church and the Ministry Center to distribute the palms one by one. They are required to wear face masks, face shields and rubber gloves. These restrictions are intended to ensure a safe environment for all attending Mass next weekend. Both the 10:00am English and the 11:30am Spanish Masses in the church will be live streamed as is our custom. We have also scheduled simultaneous additional Masses at 10:00am and 11:30am in the Ministry Center. Seating will allow for social distancing and reservations are necessary. Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2021 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who recently returned their pledge cards to the diocese. A letter was recently sent by the diocese under my name to each family who have yet to respond. Another commitment card was enclosed with that letter. Thank you for taking the extra step by mailing them back to the Diocese. This Appeal is the major source of funding for all of our Diocesan ministries and charities. Help us to reach our 2021 CMAA goal of $167,300. We can do this with the participation of each family in our parish. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
Please see additional notices posted on Flocknote and our parish Facebook page. We try to use as many 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.
Fr. Jim Murphy