FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4: 9
This week while I was preparing for daily Mass, this Scripture passage from Deuteronomy struck me, to “not forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory.” Our memory is quite an amazing thing – being able to recall the many things that happen in our life on a daily basis. As I reflected on that passage, I realized that many times in my own life, my memory gets stuck on areas of hurt, struggle or difficulties. After further evaluation though, I realized that the difficulties in my life are greatly outnumbered by the goodness I have been shown by others, especially our Heavenly Father. Just think of the number of blessings and graces that are received daily by each one of us as a sign of God’s love. Often times they might not even be recognized, maybe because our focus is on something else. Remember how good the Lord has been to us, taking time to recount His goodness. This became especially poignant to me while I was listening to Fr. Cimpl, Pastor of Holy Spirit, preach the funeral Mass of Fr. Al Krzyzopolski last Tuesday at the Church of St. Mary. He spoke about how the Lord had used Fr. Al to bless so many people whether it was through Bible studies, wonderful homilies, preparation for marriage, celebration of the Mass, feeding of the Eucharist or Baptism, just to name a few. The blessings that we the faithful received because Fr. Al answered the call to Priesthood – God knowing the man who would be able to answer the needs of us who would benefit from his ministry. I for one was blessed since Fr. Al brought my mother into the Catholic Church, married my parents, brought me into the Church through the waters of Baptism and vested me as a priest at my ordination. God blessed me through his yes – and in so doing, how many others!
So what are your blessings, the ways God has touched your life this week? Take some time to remember, but also to share with others, especially your children and grandchildren, those ways in which God acts. Throughout all of Scripture, that is exactly what we are hearing, the memory of those who experienced the love of God and wrote it down, so we, too, could know of His goodness. In a recent homily, Pope Francis encouraged us not to forget, but to remember. He said, “Our memory is so important for recalling the grace received because if we chase away that enthusiasm which comes from the memory of that first love (God)…then a huge danger arrives for Christians: a lukewarm faith. Lukewarm Christians.” Take some time today to remember the goodness of the Lord…and give thanks!
God Bless You! Fr Young
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
There is a well-known painting of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple that has some interesting aspects. However, in my research I cannot find it but I remember it very distinctly!
The painting shows Jesus with a whip in his hand, upsetting the tables of the money changers. The interesting part of the painting is the reaction of the people standing around watching the disturbance.
The face of one of the observers is complete indifference, a kind of “so what”. He sees what is happening but shows no interest. Another of the observers is curious and appears to be trying to reach out to another person to see if they can explain the scene to him. Another observer seems to be frightened by the disturbance and appears to be trying to escape the scene. Another observer seems intent on moving people out of the way so Jesus can complete the task of driving out the money changers. Of course the faces of the money changers, trying to figure out what they did wrong. The disciples are shown with the dawning realization that Jesus is fulfilling the scriptures with his actions “Zeal for his house will consume me.”
We can relate the painting to the reactions of people today to the proclamation of the Gospel. Some are indifferent-what difference does it make if you believe in God, or go to church; there are those who are searching for God—trying many different religions or belief systems trying to find the presence of God; there are those who hear the Gospel but are trying to run away from the truth of God present in their life; there are those today who want to just stand back and see what happens to those who worship God in their life; and finally those of us who see God fulfilling his promises in scripture and the reality of God present in our world in many different ways and seek to encounter him.
As we continue our Lenten journey may we open ourselves to God’s presence in our life and pray for an increase in our zeal to share the Gospel with those who are indifferent, searching, curious, or those waiting to see what happens or running away from God.
Deacon Roger R Heidt
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
What an ambivalent thing travel is. It can frustrate us to no end and consume us in planning and spending – yet it has the power to surprise us with beauty and unite us with those we love most. People go to great lengths travelling to sites secular ($50 flights to Vegas!) as well as sacred – the latter, we call pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage formed a key element in Jewish worship, as the men of Israel ascended to Jerusalem three times yearly to worship before the Lord. Today, Lent invites us too, on a pilgrimage.
In seminary overseas, I came to recognize that. I learned that a tradition dating back to the fifth century invites the Christian community of Rome to worship in a different church each of the season’s 40 days. During five Lents in the Eternal City, I was blessed to enter into this yearly pilgrimage. Each morning, with dozens of other seminarians, as well as priests, sisters and lay men and women, I trudged over the still-dark cobblestone streets, heading toward the day’s “station church”, the shrine where Mass would be celebrated at 7 AM – early enough for us to get to class on time!
As we walked, I began to make an inner journey as well. Lent became a journey away from my confining comfort and into the freedom of God’s design for me. Like each morning’s walk, the inward journey at times led over rough roads and through tempestuous weather. Yet, also like those morning walks, Lent’s inner pilgrimage leads to a place of encounter, where with our brothers and sisters we meet the Lord, present and alive in His Church.
On the second Sunday of Lent, the Church always listens to the story of Our Lord’s Transfiguration. He told His disciples about the Cross, and they were confused. Now He shows them glory, and they’re amazed. On the road to His Passion, Christ pulls back the veil for Peter, James, and John, and lets them glimpse His glory as the Father’s Son.
We’re still early in this sacred season, and a part of me still thinks of Lent like a nine-year-old forced to give up candy. “Thirty more days? Ugghh! I wanna watch TV!” I tend to look at the length of the road ahead – but when I do that, I miss the beautiful things God has for me on the way. It turns out that the Lenten journey here becomes very much like that morning pilgrimage in Rome. If I walk with my head down, simply straining forward, I miss the enchantment of what’s around me. I can miss the beauty Christ has for me now as we journey with Him up to Jerusalem.
Speaking of journeys, I took a trip last week in order to take part in a youth camp in southeast Minnesota. There, we sang a song whose lyrics always move me. They remind me that when we walk our road with Christ, when we ask Him to open our eyes, then even the dreariest days of Lent (and of life!) become charged with His presence. And He invites us, like He invited those three disciples, to see this journey in a different way:
The road is beautiful for the one who walks,
The road is beautiful for the one who goes.
The road is beautiful that leads to home,
Where they’re already waiting for you.
God bless you! Fr. Joseph
THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
A lot of people, especially kids, give up candy for Lent – and then devour it at Easter till their stomachs almost burst. I read a story online about a father who wanted to urge his kids to move beyond just giving something up for Lent. He encouraged them to make a real change in their lives, start doing something good and turn away from bad habits. His son decided that he was going to stop fighting with his brothers and sisters. Commendable! A couple of weeks into Lent the father asked his son how things were going with what he had decided to DO for Lent. He said, “I’m doing pretty good, Dad…but boy, I can’t wait till Easter.”
So what are you doing for Lent this year? How are you living out the 40 days; by being more prayerful, by fasting or offering alms? Here are some activities that are happening in our parish which you might like to consider in order to live out this Lenten journey and uniting yourself more closely with Christ.
Each Friday during Lent, the parish hosts either a Knights of Columbus Fish Fry (Feb 16, Mar 2 &16 at 5:00 pm) or a Lenten Supper (Feb 23, Mar 9 & 23 at 5:30 pm). This is a great opportunity to come together as a parish community, allowing others to serve us as their Lenten sacrifice. After we fill our stomachs, we will pray the Stations of the Cross in the Church at 7:00 pm. One of my most favorite devotions, especially during Lent, is to pray the Stations, to truly meditate and walk the path of Christ to Calvary, helping to see the sacrifice He gave for our salvation, also helping us join our own sacrifices to His. Following Stations we are going to have a ten minute witness from a member of our parish on how they carry the crosses that are in their lives. This past Friday, Deacon Roger Heidt gave us a wonderful reflection, allowing us an opportunity to enter into the sacrifices his family has made. In turn, it helped us to understand and even more easily accept our own crosses.
There are many other opportunities we have during Lent that can assist us in our Lenten observance of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Each week, St. Lambert Parish offers 24 hours of Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a time to sit before our Lord in prayer, recalling the words of Jesus to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” Maybe you could stop in sometime on Thursday and be with our Lord? On March 3rd, our parish has volunteered to pray in front of Planned Parenthood from 7 am to 7 pm in conjunction with 40 Hours for Life – praying that all mothers and fathers will choose life for their unborn child. We pray that this sacrifice of time that we make would help show the love Christ has for those parents and give them a heart that chooses life. Lastly, we have the opportunity during Lent to give more of our treasures. Weekly in our bulletin we see the shortfalls that occur in helping to keep the parish running, as well as recognizing the needs of many of our school children who need financial assistance. Maybe this Lent, we decide to use the money we are saving and direct it to help others—like for me in giving up Starbuck’s coffee.
In our opening prayer today at Mass we ask our Lord to help us “grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.” Take the opportunities that we offer here at the parish to truly know Christ more deeply, especially His great sacrifice. This will encourage us to accept and offer our own sacrifices during these 40 days.
God Bless You…Fr. Young
THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
You have to begin with the end in mind.
Renovating their home, no one starts to knock out walls without a new floor plan ready. In painting, each brushstroke becomes part of something beautiful the artist has in mind. To drive to Grandma’s house, you have to know where Grandma lives before hopping on the interstate.
As we begin Lent this week, what’s the end goal we have in mind? While I was on retreat recently, the speaker thumped the table at one point and insisted, “Lent is not about giving up chocolate!” But what is Lent about?
This Wednesday, as the ashes are blessed, we pray “that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes and shall return to dust, may, through a steadfast observance of Lent, gain pardon for sins and newness of life after the likeness of Your Risen Son.”
Forgiveness! New life! This is what Lent is about! Notice how the prayer over the ashes reminds us of Jesus’ Resurrection. That’s where we’re headed! From the first centuries, Lent has been the way Christians prepare themselves to enter into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our dear Lord, which we’ll celebrate the last week in March.
Because Jesus is risen and alive now, He has power to forgive our failures and renew our lives, just like He does for the man with leprosy in today’s Gospel. That man received the gift of a new life – something he could never give himself. Jesus, living now in glory, offers the same to us today.
Whatever we do this Lent, it will be worth it if it aids us in living in the presence of the Risen Lord. Are you giving something up? Let it be something that hinders your awareness of His presence. Are you doing something extra? Let it be something that helps you recognize His presence. I have nothing against giving up chocolate – just remember that we do it because we believe in a love that’s so much sweeter!
God bless you!