That the passion of Christ points us to the one thing that we can change? That one thing is our selves. We now enter into Holy Week, which in my mind is the most sacred time of the year. As the season of penance and sacrifice comes to an end, we turn to the focus of Holy week – the passion and suffering of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and all of the happenings that lead us to these events – events that define who we are and what it means to be a Christian. There is something especially beautiful about the Easter Vigil for me, for it was here that I moved one step closer to answering God’s call to enter the seminary. I credit the Holy Spirit, for I discovered that by engaging myself wholeheartedly in this beautiful celebration, and truly listened to the words being proclaimed, that is has the power to change a person forever. During the Triduum we suffer along with Christ. We also journey with Him in prayer so that we too might rise with Him at His glorious Resurrection. It was here that I learned that the only thing I have power over to change is myself. We can pray for each other, yet only I can make the decision to change. That personal invitation from Jesus is open to each and every one of us. I invite each of us to immerse ourselves into this mystery this week. While very different from any Holy Week we have ever experienced before, consider joining us for all of our live streamed liturgies this week, and let us join our hearts and minds with Jesus, and remember what He did for each of us. May God continue to bless and keep safe each of you and those that you love.
That God calls us to transform our weaknesses into strengths? Looking back at our life journey for just a moment, growing up in our families, attending school, or in figuring out what we want to do in life, at every turn we look at our strengths and weakness. What am I good at? What gifts have I been given? When I was working in retail, S.W.O.T. analyses were often completed, to identify not only strengths and weakness of the business, but also opportunities and threats. Most importantly, the analysis asks the probing question: how do we turn those weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities? Our Catholic faith also calls upon us to look at and identify our strengths and weaknesses, and the importance for us, to transform our weaknesses into strengths. However, we are called not to look back and dwell on the past, but rather to look forward, all in order to become the people God intended us to be. Mathew Kelly writes: “Our weaknesses are the key to the
future that God has envisioned for us.” God has a plan for each and every one of us – and the plan continues to unfold each day as we continue to listen in our hearts to where God is calling us. During this season of Lent, may each of us take the time to bring our weaknesses to God, and allow Him to transform us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be the people He personally calls us to be. May God bless each of you and those that you love, Fr. Greg.
That most of the spiritual plans we bring to Lent end up working for a short period of time? It would be my guess, that for the few days prior to Lent we were busy reconstructing our usual programs for Lent, the things that worked the last five to ten years, so that all would be in place for Ash Wednesday. It is like pulling out of storage a box of old decorations that have brought us some useful comfort and familiarity. The lists of things we give up – and the list of things we do – the books of prayer, the pasta and fish dinners, even the resolutions that provide us an opportunity to be renewed. However: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on us what God has prepared for those who love Him. (I Corinthians 2:9) These are good things! How about us leaving them in our spiritual trunk? How about we go to the Lord with heart, mind and soul open to what He will bring? What He will want of us! I am speaking only for myself – most of the spiritual plans I bring to Lent end up working for a short period of time or only take me as far as I want them to go (maybe Forty Days). If the Lord is calling the game, inviting us to join in, to surrender to the unknown – new heights, to new ministries in His name and most importantly new intimate moments of prayer and to come
away to those holy places where we have need of nothing, for the Lord suffices – then Lent will not be a program of accomplishments but an immersion into His transforming Love in ways we can’t even imagine.
That we need a constant reminder that things get out of sync in our lives? That is exactly what the season of Lent is all about. I find for myself, more times than not, I get out of balance when it comes to work, rest, and prayer. At the end of a long day, we let our prayer life falter. We allow things to control us rather than us controlling them. And then there is Lent. It stops us, and gives us the opportunity to say “I want to get it right.” I want to be renewed; I want to be refreshed. May this season of Lent be a time that all of us try to improve ourselves, to turn away from the presence of sin in our lives, that has crept into our lives. At the end of this 40 day journey, may we celebrate Easter, an Easter renewed in spirit, with a refreshed prayer life, and being reconciled with God. That is my prayer for each and every one of us this Lent.
That ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and that they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice? Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year, and are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. God’s divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance. May each of us have a truly blessed, grace filled season of Lent.
From Our Pastor