February 11, 2018
Today we celebrate the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. This will be the last Sunday of Ordinary Time before we begin the holy season of Lent this coming Wednesday. Yes, believe it or not, Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. (Since this is such a holy day for Christians, and a day of Fast & Abstinence for Catholics, the bishops have NOT dispensed us from the obligations of Fast & Abstinence even though it is Valentine’s Day. All Catholics are encouraged to consider observing Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, which is Mardi Gras.) Today’s readings remind us of the need to be healing for others. In the first reading and Gospel we are told about the dreaded disease of leprosy. In the first reading from Leviticus we have the Law. People with leprosy are to be declared ‘unclean’ and separated from the community so as not to infect others. In the Gospel when the leper approached Jesus and Jesus touched him, both broke the Law. Jesus reaches in to the misery of illness and brings God’s healing. He says, “be made clean.” This Wednesday as we begin Lent let us bring ourselves to God as we are. Let us let Jesus touch us throughout this season, and draw us to experience God’s love and healing.
Masses on Ash Wednesday will be at 8:00am and 7:00pm. Ashes will distributed after the Homily of the Mass. While this is not one of the official Holy Days of Obligation, many Christians have made it a special day as we begin with the call to “Repent and Believe in the Gospel.” Please join Msgr. Morris and me as we all acknowledge that we are sinners; that we have all fallen short and are in need of God’s merciful Love.
During Lent we are encouraged to employ three time-tested disciplines; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Begin this Sunday thinking of ways you want to enter this season with a resolve to open yourself to God’s call of repentance. We traditionally make Lenten resolutions. What will yours be? Prayer could take on a new fervor for you. Why not try to make it to daily mass and hear the scriptures that call us each day to repentance? If not every day, perhaps one or two days. At home, devote time to reflect on the scriptures. Read prayerfully the account of our Lord’s Passion in one of the Gospels. Reflect that this was done for YOU. Join us each week on Fridays as we walk with Jesus in the traditional devotion of the Stations of the Cross. Fasting can open us to new avenues for discovering the things in all our lives that keep us from placing God at the center. By sacrificing some of our favorite things, food, TV, games, etc. we could fill our hungry hearts with the things of God and discover Him blessing us with a closer relationship with Him and those we live with. Almsgiving is a way to atone for sins and to remember the less fortunate. We will be distributing CRS Rice Bowls to all this weekend. Please take one and use the prayer guide to enrich your charity for the less fortunate. Lent is a great season to Repent and find yourself in a closer discipleship with Jesus.
Finally today, I want to give you a brief update on the progress of the Parish Council in beginning a process of Strategic Planning. The Council began, last month, with a workshop on learning how to approach Strategic Planning; asking important questions as to our present identity and preparing to write a description of who, what, where, when, and how we exist as a parish family. This will give us an opportunity to look at the strengths and weaknesses of our parish in order to begin directing our energies to setting goals for the next 3-5 years. (I suggested 16 and a half, but will be happy to take it in smaller portions.) The Parish Council has been busy and met again on Thursday, Feb. 1st to continue the process. As we continue I will look forward to sharing more information. Please keep the work of the Council in your prayers. May God give success to the work before us.
God Bless! Have a great week!
Remember those 3 Hail Marys (Fr. Pete)