A New Week – February 11, 2024

Lent begins this Wednesday, February 14; are you ready? Amid our Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day celebrations these days, faithful Catholics should also be looking forward to Lent and preparing now. After all, anything worth doing well is worth preparing for!

As your Pastor, I want to help you and encourage you on your Lenten journey, so I encourage you to take advantage of the resources that will be offered here. We will have many opportunities as a parish to grow through prayer, fasting, and good works, but each of us should also focus on what we will do and how we can grow. In next week’s bulletin you’ll find our Lenten calendar for you to take out and keep during the season, and at the doors of Church you will find the “Little Black Book” of Lenten reflections and the “Little Purple Books” for children. During Lent there will be opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation, Stations of the Cross, Lenten suppers, reflection, and prayer. Watch the bulletin, FlockNotes, and our website for the latest schedules, and make this a prayerful and grace-filled time.

Often Ash Wednesday just rolls around and it’s just another day until we remember that we are supposed to be fasting and abstaining from meat. Mark the day on your calendar now, and plan to come to Mass here at 6:30am, 8:15am (with our school community), or at 6:30pm. Ashes will also be distributed at 12:00 noon in a simple prayer service. Another Mass time at another Church may be better for you, but I do encourage you to attend Mass this Wednesday, wherever it may be. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but it is an important day for Catholics and the Mass is always gift to us on our journey of faith. Marking the day on your calendar can also help you remember to fast and abstain, and maybe even encourage you to plan your menu and meals for the day. Parents, remember and teach your children by your good example!  

As last year, I am inviting our entire parish to participate in a communal Parish Lenten Project. Almsgiving is one of our Lenten disciplines, and I encourage everyone to give to those in need, in whatever way you can. One opportunity for all of us is to support the St. Joseph Housing Initiative, our Parish Lenten Project this year. SJHI was founded with the support of our former Archbishop Carlson to support low- and middle-income families to purchase a new home. SJHI trains families in the details of home ownership, then works with others to renovate area homes and help families have good and secure housing. Many of our parishioners already know of and volunteer and work with SJHI, and this Lent our whole parish will learn about the excellent work of St. Joseph Housing Initiative and how we can support its mission through our donations and our direct service. Look for envelopes to donate and opportunities for service during the coming season of Lent.    

Lent is a gift to the Church and to each of us. It can assist us on focusing on God and our need for God’s assistance, mercy, and grace. We often focus on what we are going to do during Lent, but this year, I invite you to focus on what God wants for you, what gifts and graces God wants to give to you during these holy weeks. So what does God want to give you during these coming days of Lent? I can’t answer that question for you, because God gives different gifts to different people at different times. But I do encourage you, in these few days before Lent begins, to sit quietly with the Lord and to tell God that you are open to whatever grace you are about to receive. Then just wait… and listen… and watch… and be open… and be surprised… and be grateful. Know of my prayers for you during the coming days of Lent. Let us pray for one another as our Lenten journey begins. See you on Wednesday!

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