“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Ready or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. With Easter celebrated on April 17 this year, it is time to begin the season of Lent this Wednesday. Please see the Ash Wednesday schedule of Masses and Prayer Services printed on the front page of the bulletin. Ashes will be distributed following the homily at Mass and at our Scripture Prayer Services. We approach for ashes after hearing God’s Word calling us to repent and to change our lives.
The Ash Wednesday Scriptures invite us into the season of Lent. 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 our 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 brochure was mailed to each of our families last week. It contained many things – our parish schedule of services for Ash Wednesday, Lent and the Easter Triduum, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our schedule of devotions, and many additional opportunities for the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Please refer to it often during the season as we make our journey toward the Easter Holy Days.
“The Little Black Book” for Lent 2022 is now available for your personal prayer. This year’s edition gives us daily six-minute meditations on the Parables of Jesus and is available in both English and Spanish. This is a great way to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.” They are available near the church Hospitality Desk for a $1 donation.
On this last weekend before Lent, we are asked to hold the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” for the 2022 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal – Devoted to the Works of the Lord. This Appeal is the major source of funding for all of our Diocesan ministries and charities. Bishop Hicks 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 $154,900, it is important that as many parishioners participate as possible. Please make a commitment to the 2022 CMAA at the highest level you are able to. Join me in fulfilling our responsibilities to our larger Diocesan Church.
Let’s commit ourselves to enter into Lent as best as we can. Know that you and the concerns of your heart are remembered in our prayers during this holy season. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy