Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Lent came later this year and still took us by surprise. But it has been an amazing season so far. I wonder what God has in store for us yet; we already have such a full and particularly special season of events this year.
And you have responded. There is nothing more satisfying in ministry than when you realize that what you are blessed to offer is truly needed and a blessing to those in your care. We have rarely seen such a response as we had this week at the Parish Mission talks of Fr. Corrado. His message was so relevant and personal to everyone because he has a particular gift of speaking the truth in a way that we can hear it, I think. I saw a lot of people surprised by what they probably already knew but just never heard it put so simply and clearly. He has given us a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops and deeply received in our hearts. Thanks for coming.
Again, the 5-week series on Scripture and the Mass… well, I didn’t think we would probably get even a dozen to come on Sunday nights. Typical to me, I had an announcement ready to say that we didn’t have enough response to keep it on the calendar and would try to reschedule later in the spring when people might have more time to plan. Well, the available room’s capacity is 60 and the response was so great that we had to add an additional Sunday afternoon class – both classes are filled to capacity. Thanks for coming.
Adoration this week for 40 Hours – well, perhaps thanks to new technology and online sign-ups – we had all the times completely filled for adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist for the entire cycle of hours. Last year we had difficulty, asking and asking. I get the sense a shift has taken place here, people are praying more, people are more involved. The message is heard and seen in our actions. So, again, thanks for coming.
We continue now in the season of Lent with a particular focus on all those who are preparing for sacraments. You may have noticed all the little sheep on the steps of the sanctuary. Each one was placed there when our children finished their First Reconciliation last week. At each prayer service throughout the week we listened to the parable of the Good Shepherd who goes out into the valleys and thickets and looks for the lost sheep. I asked the kids before confession, “Who is the lost sheep in the story?” Every time, they replied, “We are!” Reconciliation is a powerful reality, and the lambs on the steps are a strong visual of how the gift of reconciliation is given to our community in a new way through all these children. So, remember to pray for them during this season.
Also, we pray for all the Elect and the Candidates (adults and young people), who are preparing in RCIA or Religious Education to receive the sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – at the Easter Vigil. I had hoped to place their photos in the vestibule of the church this year so you can recognize them, maybe we will get it done for the season of Easter after they have become members of the Church… but we must remember to pray for all of them now, as they are in these last weeks of preparation. At various Masses coming up (3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent) we will have what are called “Scrutinies,” opportunities for the Assembly to pray for them at Masses, to help them to be ready for the grace and joy of the sacraments. These are also great reminders for ourselves, to renew our desire for the same grace and joy.
Finally, don’t forget the Living Stones on the steps in front of the altar. As in other years, you are invited to place a stone there for anyone you have invited to come back to the Mass, family members or friends who have been away. The Stones are powerful reminders for us to pray for them, too.
God bless you.