Message from Fr. Mike
February 17, 2024
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May the peace and joy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, be with you. Amen.
January was a busy month, both in the parish, and in the school. Liturgically speaking, in January, we transitioned from the Christmas Season to Ordinary Time. In February, we transition from Ordinary Time to the Season of Lent, a season of grace. Lent is early this year. It begins on February 14 with the Ash Wednesday celebration. Today, is the First Sunday of Advent.
Lent is a season of grace. It is given to us by the Son of God to help us to evaluate our relationship with God, and with each other. Christ came into this world by taking our human nature in order to make us divine. Lent raises this fundamental question; how is our relationship with God, and with each other going? That is, how close or how far am I from Divinity? Isaiah reminds us that the goal of Lent is to “prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; the rugged land shall be a plain,” (Isaiah 40:3-4). Anyone in the business of constructing roads and bridges will tell you that it is not easy to fill valleys and bring down mountains and hills. It is a radical process. For some of us, filling the valleys and bringing down the mountains in our lives is a radical process. It might be what it takes to get close to divinity. Lent is not a season of business as usual, it is a radical process.
We are not left alone like orphans. There is help. Every Friday of Lent we are encouraged to fast, abstain from meat, and pray together the Way of the Cross. Praying the Stations of the Cross is an ancient practice that tells the story of what Jesus underwent to bring us salvation. Every Wednesday, we will have Bible Study, both in the morning and in the evening. This helps us to open our ears to the voice of God. There is Morning Prayer and Mass from Monday to Friday every week. Maybe, this is the time for us to increase the frequency of our Mass attendance.
With regard to almsgiving, there are sufficient resources for Corporal Works of Mercy through the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul, the Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick, the Knights of Columbus, and the Friends In Deed Bad Weather Shelter and Food Bank coordinated by Ed Vidimos.
Another powerful symbol of Lent is the RCIA program. The Rite in this program reminds us of what we should all do. This Sunday, we celebrate the Rite of Election. Unfortunately, this year, it has been moved, to February 25. The Rite of Election reminds us that we who are Baptized have been elected or chosen by God to be His sons and daughters. Lent demands that we respond to that call. The Rite of Call to Continuous Conversion echoes the message of Ash Wednesday, “Repent and Believe in the Gospel.” In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is the Gospel, He is the Good News.
There are three Scrutinies in the RCIA program. They start on the Third Sunday of Lent. The Scrutinies re-enforce the message of repentance. It raises the question, what is it that is deterring me from becoming Divine?
Our one-day retreat in the desert of Valyermo is another resource available to us. At St. Andrew’s Abbey, we will spend the day listening to talks by a Monk. There we are being challenged by the quietness and bareness of the desert. We will celebrate Mass with the Monks. It is a day of grace.
Explore your own resources that will help you to become closer to the Divine in this Lent.
With the Love of Christ,
Fr. Mike Ume