This Week – March 1, 2019
The verdict is in! The people of God have spoken! The show of hands at each Mass was consistent and persuasive. We will henceforth refer to the section by the choir as “Section One” and the section behind the servers as “Section Seven.” Section Four is Section Four no matter which way you go. We might not be able to call it the “sensus fidelium” but we can call it “our consensus.” More on this as Lent unfolds. Thanks for keeping it fun and clear.
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER, SERVICE, AND COMMUNITY: SPECIAL EDITION – MAPPING OUT LENT
Yes. Lent is days away. It is hard to imagine that we are here already but here we are so let’s get going. The season invites us to renew our focus on Jesus. It calls us to become more intentional in our discipleship. It recruits us to take next steps as priests (peoples of prayer), prophets (who challenge and console others) and queens/kings/monarchs (who build up the community). Yes, it is a season of giving things up. And yes, it is a season to do the work of adopting habits we want to maintain over the long run. Perhaps it makes good spiritual sense for you to consider some of the following options. Regardless of your Lenten plan, I look forward to seeing you on Ash Wednesday.
Prayer – Ash Wednesday Services. Masses are at 8:35 a.m. and 7:30 pm. Ashes will be distributed at both Masses. There will be a service to distribute ashes at 5:00 pm.
Prayer – Daily Mass. We have a delightful group – sometimes up to 50 or 60 people who come to daily Mass. Think of joining the celebration. You will also discover that the regulars are a delightful bunch of Christians. The “8:35 Club” is there to welcome you every morning, Monday through Saturday. On Saturdays, we make extra time for everyone to pray their intentions out loud at the Prayers of the Faithful. Warning – many of the people who started coming for Lent ended up coming all year round!
Prayer – the Little Black Books. I never knew about the Little Black Books (LBBs) before I landed here. They are a great idea. It is already pretty much of a parish thing and is becoming even more so. Good for us. Are we at the point where we can assume that every adult around us (i.e., big kids and taxpayers) is spending a few minutes a day with the LBBs? If not, we are quite close. The LBBs are available in the Gathering Space this weekend. Here is a big favor. For this weekend, please take just one for each household. Next week, if we have extras, we can provide more. We bought plenty but they are in huge demand. Thanks. Pray well.
Prayer – Stations of the Cross. Stations are prayed twice every Friday – in the morning right after the 8:35 Mass and in the evening at 7:30 pm. Even if you aren’t in a position to go every week, go at least once if you can. It is a beautiful part of our tradition
Prayer – Confessions. Lent is a great time for Reconciliation. I am “in the box” at 4:00 pm every Saturday. The last two Saturdays in Lent include extra confessions times. We have a parish Penance Service coming up and I am always happy to hear confessions in my office. If you want to go but don’t want to go with me, totally fine. I can help you find just the right confessor.
Prayer – Scripture Study – The Book of Genesis – Not that scripture study is synonymous with prayer, but the study can enrich the prayer. I am going to lead a new scripture study program that I have not used before but that comes well recommended. We will study the book of Genesis – and will not complete the entire book. The Scripture Study meets in the Hospitality room on Monday nights from 7:00 to 8:30. The class is limited to 35 people. Signups are in the Gathering Space this weekend. The classes will meet on March 11, 18 and 25 and April 1 and 8.
Prayer – Church Teaching – Pope Francis’ “Rejoice and Be Glad: The Call to Holiness” – Father Greg Uhrig will continue his very popular Thursday morning classes. But this time registration is not limited to those who attend 8:35 Mass. This letter of Pope Francis’ is excellent and Fr. Greg has a marvelous way of making it real. Registration is limited to 40 and the classes will be on Thursday mornings from 9:15 to 10:30 on March 14, 21 and 28 and on April 4 and 11. Signups are in the Gathering Space this weekend.
Prayer – 2 Mornings of Recollection – Our Lenten calendar includes two mornings of recollection for different groups. If you are a caregiver, come to the Morning of Recollection for Caregivers on March 9. You will gain a great sense of inspired connection with people who know first-hand the ups and downs of doing what you do. Sign up in the Gathering Space this weekend. The other retreat morning is the Morning of Recollection for All Ministries on March 16. Whatever your ministry, you are encouraged to participate in this retreat morning. It is a great time to reflect on the ways God uses you and to connect with the others in your ministry. Be there. RSVP via Suzanne Kral at firstname.lastname@example.org
Service – Ministry Recruiting – For Five Weekends Starting March 10 – Many of you perform great acts of service outside of the parish. Good for you. Whether you have an outside service commitment or not, Lent is a great time to rethink your ministerial commitments. Perhaps it is time for you to up your game – especially in the liturgical ministries (maybe as a Eucharistic Minister, an usher, a server or who knows what) or in the social ministries. It might even be time for you to dial it down or find a new ministry. And perhaps the reflection will reveal that you have it just right. My hope is that you will take that long loving look at how you are answering your baptismal call to serve as a prophet of consolation and challenge. The Ministry Recruiting can help.
Community. This Lent includes more than the usual number of fellowship events in the parish. Each provides a chance for you to get to know a new parishioner or two and to renew your connections to people you know. But before all that happens, please wonder about the place where you usually sit on Sundays and how many names you know. This Lent’s Fellowship Events include:
Our Annual Fish Fry with Irish Dancers – This is a perennial favorite, and rightly so. Mark your calendar for Friday, March 22. If you have registered in the parish in the last two years, let me know if you want complementary tickets. It truly is one of the BIG fellowship moments of the year – and GREAT food.
An Evening of Praise and Worship with Rea Larangeira – After the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, March 30. The Youth Ministry will sell food between Mass and the concert. The concert is a big part of the Confirmation students’ retreat day. All are invited to this Praise and Worship Service. Rea rocks.
Trivia Night – This is a new one and promises to be a keeper. See the posters in the Gathering Space for more information. There is a rumor going around that the game’s organizers are going to raffle off the pastor to the highest bidder to help with the trivia questions about religion. I sure hope he gets at least one bid and I sure hope he doesn’t embarrass himself. Trivia Night is Friday, April 5 and the proceeds help support our Youth Group’s Summer work projects.
Next week’s “This Week” will be in the usual format. Have a great start to Lent
Sunday’s HomilyFebruary 24, 2019 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary TimeInspired Challenging, Part 4: Disavowing RetaliationTo listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page
With gratitude and all best blessings
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 4: Disavowing Retaliation
Has any human NOT felt the urge to retaliate? Who among us has never experienced the desire to “inflict injury in return for an injury”? When someone hurts you, or worse yet, hurts someone you love, revenge crosses your mind, right? The impulse comes with our human nature. The call to control that impulse and use it for good comes from Jesus. Sunday’s readings clarify his call for us to disavow retaliation, again and again and again.
Sunday’s passage from Luke 6 comes from “The Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6: 20-49), Luke’s version of Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount.” The passage we heard this week provides Jesus’ instructions for loving our enemies. To understand Jesus fully, it helps to consider his uses of “enemy” and “love.”
Who is an enemy? Anybody who wants to injure us. And why do they want to injure us? Because they hate us. And why do they hate us and want to injure us? Do we ever really know the answer to that question?
Moreover, when Jesus speaks of “love,” he is referring to a genuine devotion that labors for what is best for the other. Jesus takes a dim view of love-talk that does not find expression in love-action. Jesus’ life and words justify what so many saints remind us: “true love finds expression in action, not simply in words.” Jesus wants us to enhance the other’s quality of life, to deepen the other’s peace in this life and the next.
When we assemble the pieces, we hear Jesus speaking the seemingly preposterous order: “labor for the wellbeing of people who want to injure you.” That command leaves no room for retaliation. That command also points the way to a peace that no pursuit of retaliation can supply. Retaliation is a fool’s errand. It never gets us to the peace we crave. Retaliation is a losing proposition. To misquote the old bromide, “Winners don’t retaliate, and retaliators don’t win.” Disavowal of the retaliation impulse is the only way to go. Jesus never asks us to condone bad behavior or encourage any form of abuse. He wants us to champion “justice” – the world the way he wants it. But retaliation is incompatible with the pursuit of justice.
Sunday’s first reading (1 Samuel 26) depicts King David as a poster child for those who disavow retaliation. The passage describes the second time that David could have retaliated against King Saul. Sunday’s verses come from the part of the story when Saul is still King and is trying to kill David so David will not become king. Funny turns of events twice put Saul within David’s reach but David did not retaliate. David made plenty of mistakes in his life, but in this case, he got it right. He worked for the wellbeing of a person who hated him.
What about you? You have done what Jesus requires and what David did. You have felt the urge to retaliate and you have resisted the urge. It might have happened at school, on your team, in your study group, at work, in the neighborhood, in the family, with former in-laws, or even at church. You could have gotten even, or at least tried to, and you did not. You subsequently felt the peace that comes from disavowing retaliation. When have you experienced the grace to disavow retaliation and who might need to hear your story? Is there a person in your life who is contemplating revenge? Is there a way in which your story might challenge that other to make a better choice? In this season of reflecting on our mission to challenge others, is there a way in which your story of struggle and success might challenge a loved one to disavow retaliation and know Christ’s peace in a deeper way?