A word from Pope Francis ~ “We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a church becomes like this, it grows sick.”
It doesn’t seem possible that we are already observing the Fourth Sunday of Lent today. We are now past the half-way point of this season. During these middle weeks of Lent, we continue to focus our attention on the ways God helps us to respond to the call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus and the call to conversion. The main image in the Scripture readings of this week is the image of light. We are called to see as God sees. The Gospel story of the Prodigal Son highlights God’s desire to forgive – no matter what our past may have been.
As our Lenten Penitential Rite at Mass reminds us, Lent is the primary season of reconciliation within the church year. One of the best ways for us to prepare for the renewal of our Baptism commitment at Easter is by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lenten times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are on Fridays following the 12:05pm Mass until 1:30pm and on Saturdays following the 8:15am Mass until 10:00am. There will be an opportunity to celebrate this sacrament as a community at our Lenten Reconciliation Service next Monday, April 4, at 7:00pm. This season is an ideal time for each of us to celebrate this powerful sacrament of God’s healing.
We remember in our Lenten prayer all those who spend this Lent in preparation for their initiation into the church community at the Easter Vigil. We do this in a public and formal way during the middle weeks of Lent with the celebration of the Scrutinies, or Rites of Inner Healing, with our Elect. Today, we’ll celebrate the Second Scrutiny at the 10:00am Mass. Even though we are currently hearing the Cycle C Readings this year, we read the Cycle A Readings in our celebration of the Scrutinies. This Cycle gives us the traditional “coming to faith” stories that were used to prepare those to be baptized in the early church. For the Second Scrutiny, we hear the account of the man born blind from John’s Gospel. Like him, we are brought from the darkness of sin into the light of faith through our Baptism. His story is really the story of those who are preparing for their Baptism. The Elect and Candidates are living signs of the conversion and change of heart that we are all called to make this Lent. We promise them the support of our prayers throughout this season and look forward to the time when they can join with us at the table of the Eucharist. Their photos are displayed on the bulletin board in the Narthex.
Many of us have been using Bishop Ken Untener’s “The Little Black Book” during these past few weeks of Lent. The Lenten “Little Books” have given us daily six-minute reflections on the Parables of Jesus. We now have copies of “The Little White Book” available for the Easter Season. “The Little White Book” begins on Monday, April 18, Easter Monday, and provides us with daily six-minute Scripture reflections. The Easter season will conclude on Pentecost Sunday. They will be available next weekend in the Narthex of the Church and are an excellent guide for us “to spend some quite time with the Lord.”
Confirmation interviews with our candidates for Confirmation and their sponsors begin this weekend. These interviews with one of our priests or staff members normally take about 20 minutes. If you are a candidate for our celebration of Confirmation on Saturday, June 18, please schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
As Lent progresses, let us continue to pray for and support each other in our Lenten practices. Know that your priests pray for you each day. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy