Dear Friends in Christ:
As we continue our journey of Lent…we should ask ourselves: “how is it going?” Has your practice of the spiritual disciplines attached to Lent helped you to recognize the more you want in the bottom of your heart?
It is never too early to take stock of how we are doing with our Lenten practices. Ask yourself:
· How am I doing with my prayer? Have I increased the amount of time I give to God each day? Have I made room for God, or more room for God, in my heart? If the answer is no there is still time!
· How am I doing with my fasting? Have I remained vigilant in fasting from whatever I promised God and myself that I would fast from? If the answer is no there is still time!
· How am I doing with my almsgiving? Have I sought out opportunities to help those most in need? Have I participated in the Parish Corporal Works of Mercy in these first days of Lent by bringing food for the hungry or drink for the thirsty? If the answer is no there is still time!
By fasting, prayer, and almsgiving we all renew and purify our hearts and are led to the fullness of grace. So how are we doing?
I have to be honest…each year we provide the little black books for Lent and each year I say to myself I am going to use the book as part of my own prayer each day…and each year we come to the end of Lent and I realize, yet again, I did not fully utilize the book. Well this Lent is going to be different, or so I told myself on Ash Wednesday! Here we are at the Second Sunday of Lent and I just picked up the book this past week. It wasn’t too late…there was still time! I caught up with the meditations I had missed since the beginning of the book and make this little resource a part of my daily prayer.
Now catching up on the meditations I missed, there was one that really spoke to me and for the sake of those who may not have the little black book at home here is the meditation from the Sunday before Ash Wednesday:
A Lenten thought…We can look upon Lent as a journey. Think about the trips we take—long ones that can take days, even weeks to complete. Journeys have their ups and downs. We don’t really expect them to go smoothly. If we are going to drive across the country, we expect a few care problems, some bad weather, some detours, some missed connections and so forth. We prepare for those things and we deal with them as they come. Oftentimes, when people go along the journey of Lent, and something goes wrong (for example, they break their Lenten resolution), they cash it in and think that their Lenten observance is ruined. But it would be a lot better to deal with Lent the way we deal with every other long and sometimes difficult journey. I don’t expect Lent to be a perfect journey. It will have its ups and downs. But I can make a good start and deal with the breakdowns and disappointments along the way. My goal is Easter, and right now it’s a long way off. I’m ready for a long haul, and I’ll deal with whatever comes my way.
This really spoke to me…well because I have been in that situation and often enough forget that I can start again. Giving up on the rest of this journey of Lent when something goes wrong would be wrong. Lent is a time of invitation from Jesus to be transformed. If we throw in the towel because we had one setback then we are throwing in the towel on the chance to be transformed. Seize the opportunity Lent offers.
· Pray more deeply. Be honest with God and yourself. Put yourself consciously in the presence of God who knows us in the most intimate possible way. Surrender your will to His. Express to God what is on your heart…the good…the bad…the ugly. Ask for His grace to be conformed to the image of His Son.
· Fast! As I offered last week in this article there are things we can fast from that are not food items! If we are being open and honest in our prayer with God then we will see the things in our life and in our relationships that need change and this is where fasting comes in to our Lenten journey. Fasting is certainly much more than a dietary practice. Fasting allows us to give up those attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors that are not in keeping with the command to love God with our whole being and love our neighbor as ourselves.
· Almsgiving…this spiritual discipline logically flows from the first two of prayer and fasting. Almsgiving is a foundational call of Christians to charity. This is a frequent theme in the Gospels. Simply put this old word means to give to those in need. Giving to those in need is a way of living out the great commandment of love. By giving to those in need we seek to see the face of Christ in those we are helping.
As Catholics we joyfully engage in these Lenten disciplines because we are disciples. We pray, we fast, and we give because we follow Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His own life so that we might share in Eternal Life. We do so remembering that our goal on this journey is Easter and there is still time to be transformed on this journey to that joy!
The Second Sunday of Lent always features the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. As we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel passage, Jesus chooses Peter, James and John, his “inner circle,” to accompany him up the mountain and to reveal to them his true glory. On the mountaintop, they encounter who Jesus really is – the glorified Son of God. Mountains in the Scriptures are often places of encounter with God. The prevailing understanding that God dwells in the heavens, led the ancient people to believe that one could draw closer to God or even encounter God on a mountaintop. Scripture reinforces this belief when we see Abraham offering the sacrifice of his son on Mount Moriah (today’s First Reading), Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, Elijah encountering the presence of God in a whisper on Mount Horeb, and even Jesus “going up the mountainside” to spend a night in prayer with His heavenly Father. Mountains are often places one can go to experience the isolation and the peace that comes from being up high away from the busyness of life and enjoying the sights of what is below. This reminds us that in our spiritual life, to properly pray, we need to remove ourselves from the busyness of day-to-day life and find a mountain top experience of our own. This Sunday, as we contemplate the reassuring encounter of Peter, James and John with the glorified Lord, perhaps we can consider our own “mountains” where we sense a closeness to God and, if possible, find some time to revisit our mountain as we continue this journey through Lent to the glory of Easter.
Parish Corporal Works of Mercy update…last weekend the generous people of our parish family donated over 1,000 pounds of food to the Cheshire Community Food Pantry to give food to the hungry! Thank you!
This weekend we are collecting beverages to give drink to the thirsty and next weekend we will be collecting white socks for men, women, and children to help the clients at Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury, and onesies for babies at Carolyn’s Place to help clothe the naked. Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and for recognizing that in serving them we are serving the Lord.
JOIN US THIS LENT:
JOIN US EVERY Tuesday of Lent from 5-6PM for Drive-Up Confessions! As we do every Saturday from 3PM until heard, Father Federico and I will be present in front of the school building for you to drive-up and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation! What a great way to experience God’s mercy during this holy season!
JOIN US ON FRIDAYS DURING LENT FOR STATIONS OF THE CROSS! Signup through our website to join us each Friday of Lent for Stations of the Cross at 7PM. The Stations of the Cross are a beautiful way to reflect on the Passion and Death of our Savior Jesus Christ and to come to appreciate the great suffering He endured for our salvation!
JOIN US on our Social Media on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent as your pastoral staff and fellow parishioners share with us their own little “desert experience.” During the Lenten journey as we reflect on how we WANT MORE in life, and we come to recognize our need to TURN TO CHRIST, finding that place in our lives where we can have a desert experience in prayer is so crucial. I am sure we will all grow as we learn from the experience of others!
Archbishop’s Annual Appeal…back in December the Archbishop appointed me as the Chairman of the Pastor’s Advisory Committee for the Appeal. I served in this role a few years ago and I am honored to do so again. As you can imagine this is not an easy task in the midst of a pandemic.
I really believe in the Appeal and the many good works that are made possible thanks to the generosity of so many throughout the Archdiocese. Every single day our archdiocese is a support and a resource to the parishes of the Archdiocese, our archdiocese offers counseling services and health care ministries, our archdiocese educates young men for the priesthood, others for the diaconate, and lay people for ministry in their parishes. Every day, through the funds of the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, the archdiocese supports organizations and non-profits in all our communities who provide services to the sick, the elderly, the addicted, the hungry, and the forgotten.
As you can imagine, as with all things during this pandemic, things are a little different this year as to how we effectively communicate the importance of the Appeal to the day-to-day life of the Archdiocese. We are very excited that we are hosting a first-ever virtual kickoff event with the Archbishop this coming WEDNESDAY, March 3rd at 7:30PM. Please join us for an enjoyable and informative program.
As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here.Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.