February 24, 2012 – Let’s Change the Subject

There is no doubt that there has been a lot of important news affecting the Catholic Church over the last couple of months, whether it be issues that threaten our religious freedom, or the upcoming elections, or issues closer to home such as the Diocesan Renewal and Restructuring Process and the continuing decline in the number of priests.  It has been a bit of a challenge to sort through it all each week and to narrow down what to write about in the blog.  Though these are all important things to discuss, eventually you reach a point where you feel like you need to at least temporarily shift your focus and give your brain time to cool off.  So this week I going to take a break from all of that and do one of my famous “miscellaneous” blogs, and just touch on some of the other stuff happening around our parish and in my little corner of the world.

Of course we are now in the season of Lent (stomach growl).  As is my tradition I have given up all flavors of Doritos (stomach growl), and also this year I’m going to try to avoid other salty snack foods (major stomach growl).  Our parish is offering all of our traditional Lenten devotions, including Mass at 12:10PM on Mondays, Stations of the Cross at 4:30PM on Saturdays, and Communion Services on Wednesday evenings at 7:00PM which feature prayer, reception of Holy Communion and a little horrible singing.  I think the Lenten season has come at a good time this year because as I kind of eluded to already, with all of the stuff going on in the world, it may have taken our focus away from what is central to our Catholic faith – the Eucharist, the celebration of the sacraments, and performing charitable works for those less fortunate.  The season of Lent helps remind us to take time each day for God, whether it be to sacrifice in some way, or just to spend a little extra time in prayer and reflection.

In addition to all of that, we also have the Fanning the Flame program that continues.  When the program first began, I thought “my gosh, 36 weeks of this!  36 weeks I’m going to have to try to sacrifice at least part of another evening!”  But lo and behold, here we are already having gone through 6 weeks, and the experience has been nothing but positive.  We have had consistently good crowds for our Tuesday evening discussion group – about 20-25 people each time, and each session has been informative and interesting.  Fr. Gene has done a wonderful job explaining things that may be a little difficult to understand, and also interjecting bits of church history.  There are also others who have received their copy of the U.S. Catechism for Adults and are following the program individually.  Even though we are already 6 weeks into the program, it is not too late to begin to participate if you would like to do something extra for Lent, or if you would like a little more clarity about our faith.  All are still invited to attend our Tuesday evening group, or you can go to the links on our website and follow along individually.  There are links to chapter guides for each week, a link to read the chapter from the catechism if you do not have the book, and a link to the Fanning the Flame homepage which has all kinds of good stuff, including guides from the previous chapters and information on how to order your own copy of the catechism.

The season of Lent also signals the time to ramp up preparations for the reception of the Sacraments, especially years such as this when we are preparing the 7th and 8th graders for the sacrament of Confirmation.  It will be a busy Lent for our candidates (and our catechists – can I get a few sympathy points? – didn’t think so – lol), starting tomorrow as they attend their retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady of Snows.  Then a week from Sunday we have the Rite of Election to Confirmation ceremony during the 9:00AM Mass.  They will be participating in the 3 days of the Holy Triddum, and of course it culminates on April 11 with the Confirmation ceremony at the Cathedral in Belleville.  It will be a little different experience as we participate with our cluster parishes and hold Confirmation at someplace besides home base, but I think it can also be a good experience in realizing that we are not just a local church, but indeed a universal church, as the word Catholic itself implies.  And of course our 2nd graders are preparing for First Communion which will be on April 22.  Please pray for all of those preparing for the sacraments that this experience will strengthen their relationship with God and vault them toward a lifetime of Christian service.

It’s been a little while since I tooted the horn for our website, www.maryhoc.org, but I want to again thank all of you for continuing to visit and use the information that is posted.  Traffic numbers the last couple of months have been great.  I continue to look at other church websites and I see some of the “fancy” flash presentations and other things some are using to attract visitors to their sites, which there is nothing wrong with.  But I think there is some value to having a rather simple format based on providing information.  I would encourage you to use to check our Facebook page if you haven’t done so in a while (click the link on our homepage).  I like to post things there because it is relatively simple as I can do it from any computer and is less time consuming.  It’s hard to believe that this summer the website will have been online for 5 years. (and we haven’t been infected with any major viruses – thanks be to God!).  This week I hope to get some photos up from our Confirmation retreat as well as the volleyball game on March 1 which is 8th grade night.

Well I think this sums things up from my perch.  Have a great week (stomach growl).  Peace.

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