Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Continuing Our Lenten Journey


Dear Parishioners,

I can’t tell you how many times I have said to myself (and sometimes to my parish staff): “I should have been a monk!” For years I have been going to a Trappist monastery for my annual retreat. There I can experience some profound solitude and have quality time to pray, read, write, etc. My time in the desert, so to speak, can also be a time to confront the devil and his temptations, just as Jesus did. However, in the end, I must return back to the parish and to my priestly duties and routine. After all, I am not a monk.

The season of Lent is an occasion for all of us to go into that spiritual desert to deepen our relationship with God, to repent of our sins and to confront the evil (the demons) in our lives. This time should not be business as usual, if we want to grow in holiness and the love of God. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are not just suggestions, but necessary requirements for penance (mortification) and our spiritual growth.

Many of us start out with good intentions at the beginning of Lent, and then weaken our resolutions and grow less zealous as we move through those long forty days. Let me act as a spiritual coach: Don’t give up! Keep going! The Stations of the Cross can certainly be comforting to us, especially when we realize that Jesus fell (at least) three times and still got up and kept going on the road to Calvary. Follow His example.

The 4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) is named for its entrance antiphon reflecting on Isaiah 66: 10-11: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exalt and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” Laetare means "rejoice" and like its counterpart in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, the priest has the option of wearing rose-colored vestments instead of violet. The change of color is to indicate a sense of hope and joy—anticipation of Easter—during the penitential season. We are now only 21 days away from Easter Sunday!

I have been encouraged by the good number of people who have taken advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (a.k.a., confession) during this time. If you have not, I implore you to seek out the healing power and mercy of Christ waiting there for the repentant sinner. Too often people carry sins around for months, years or even decades (for various reasons) not realizing that Christ came to reconcile us (see 2 Cor. 5: 18-19) with the Father and not condemn us. Yes, we first need to repent and change our sinful ways. But Christ offers us forgiveness and mercy when we do.

Holy Week and Easter focus on the most profound mysteries of our faith: the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. Please plan to participate in the Masses and services at this sacred time. Holy Thursday emphasizes the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood. Good Friday recalls Jesus’ Passion and Death on the Cross for our sins.  The celebration of Easter proclaims Christ’s Resurrection from the dead and new life for us all!

If we take Lent seriously, if we take our Catholic faith seriously, we are in the best position to deal with the ever-growing hostilities that are present toward Jesus and His Church. He warned us that if they persecuted Him they will persecute us also (see Jn. 15:20). They mocked, rejected, tortured, and killed Jesus even though He came to save us and lead us to His Heavenly Father. Don’t ever think that the path ahead will be easy and without a cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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