February 21, 2009 – It’s Lent Already?

Well can you believe that we are beginning the Lenten season this week?  We have just gotten rid of all of the poinsettias in church and boom, here we are.  Time waits for no one, as they say.  As usual, we will have special activities surrounding Lent.  Check out our website, www.maryhoc.org for more information.  I will also be posting links to other websites to log on to for special family activities and Lenten reflections.

I started to think a little bit about what I am going to do as a means of sacrifice during Lent.  Generally in the past I have not done so well when it comes to “giving up” something.  If I give up soda, for example, it seems like I get a few days into Lent and I’m in a situation where I’m dying of thirst and the only thing around is a soda.  Or if I give up sweets, then a day or two into Lent the Girl Scout cookies I ordered arrive.  I know exactly what they mean when they say that the will is strong, but the flesh is weak.

So when I think about extra things to do for Lent, I generally lean more toward the spiritual side of things.  I try to do some type of daily reflection – whether it be a Lenten reflection or just a little time in quiet prayer, or even just grabbing the Bible and randomly opening it up and reading a page or two.  I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have opened the Bible and read a little bit when I haven’t thought to myself “Yeah, I was in that situation today,” or “I was just questioning that the other day.”  Just a few minutes of reflection is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the real world that we face everyday.  I’m a fan of the TV show Seinfeld.  In one of the episodes George Costanza’s dad Frank started using a technique that whenever he would get angry or if things were not going his way, he would stop and yell “Serenity Now!”  A few minutes of reflection is kind of my own way of using Frank’s strategy.

One of the exciting parts of Lent is that the RCIA process is winding down and that we will soon welcome new folks as full members of our faith.  Our candidates, sponsors and team have worked diligently – giving up their Tuesday evenings for about 5 months now, and are about to see their reward.  Please continue to pray for everyone involved in our RCIA program.  They have an important weekend in store next weekend as they will have a Rite of Sending here in church on Saturday, February 28 during the 5:00 Mass, and the next day they will participate in the Rite of Election ceremony at the Cathedral in Belleville.

Events such as the season of Lent and the RCIA process help bring into focus what the true mission of our church is.  We put so much time and energy into keeping the “physical” part of our parish afloat, and of course this is absolutely essential to what we do.  Maintaining our buildings, fund raising, budgeting – these are all so important in keeping our parish vital, and we have many wonderful people who work very hard in performing these tasks.  These tasks are performed with the ultimate goal of having the means to continue to spread the good news of the Gospel and to offer the Sacraments to all who wish to receive them.  Lent is a time of focusing on “sacrifice,” and our parishioners who work so hard to keep our parish going – church staff, schol teachers and staff, volunteers, all of our commitees, Knights of Columbus and NCCW – cannot be thanked enough for their sacrifices of time and energy, not just during Lent, but year-round.

Our parish faces some challenges – the struggling economy, major roofing projects to be completed, etc., etc.  But if we keep the true mission of parish in mind, I have no doubt that we will continue to be a strong family of faith.

Have a blessed and fulfilling Lenten season.  Peace.

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