Congratulations to Br. Silas Henderson, SDS, who was ordained a permanent deacon on February 20th in Tucson. Silas gave many workshops and adult formation classes here at Pius before he moved to Arizona, where he is the director of Jordan Ministry. Jordan Ministry’s online faith formation events can be found here. We accompany Silas in prayer as he continues his ministry of faith formation for adults.
I thank those who attended our reflection this past Tuesday. I hope it was a spiritually fulfilling experience for you. Please note the information in the bulletin and online for the diocesan Lenten retreat on the Gift of Sunday. The retreat is this Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
A main focus of our first readings during cycle B in Lent is on the various covenants God made with His people. Last week we heard the covenant with Noah, this week God repeats His covenant with Abraham, and next week we will have the covenant God made through Moses with the 10 commandments. We then hear, in week four, how the infidelity of the Jews caused the exile, but God, with his infinite faithfulness and mercy, used the King of the Persians to call all Jews back to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. Finally, the week before Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we hear Jeremiah’s prophesy that there will be a new covenant, written in our hearts.
We are living that new covenant, “the new and eternal covenant,” as we say in the consecration of the wine at every Mass. There will be no more covenants between God and us. It is no accident that Jesus died at the same time the Passover lambs were being sacrificed!
What does this mean for us today?
Jesus suffered and died for our salvation: that is God’s part of the covenant. We accepted it and entered into the covenant with our baptismal promise to live our lives according to the Gospel. When we fail, we are breaking the promise we made through baptism. The good news is that God is patient, God is compassionate, God is the Prodigal Father always waiting for us to come back to Him.
Lent is a special time of evaluating how we are living out our baptismal promises, resolving to “come back” to the God who is calling. That is why we renew our baptismal commitment as we celebrate Easter: we are celebrating God’s part in the covenant, so we repeat our part, reminding ourselves how we are to live.
As we enter into the second week of Lent, I urge all of us to make the best use possible of this time of renewal, listening as the Lord says to us, “Come back to me, with all your heart; don’t let fear, keep us apart.”
You are in my prayers for the most spiritually renewing Lent that you have ever had! God bless.
PS. I come across clever church signs, but often they are too long for the sign out in front of our church. So I have decided to start a CHURCH SIGN OF THE WEEK at the end of every letter. Here is this week’s: Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening. Be good at both.
I hope your observance of Lent is off to a good start and that you are using the Little Black Book provided by the parish to help you focus and pray each day. Copies of that reflection book and the Little Purple Book of activities for children can be picked up in the back of church after Mass or in the parish office. You can also drive by the main door of the church and pick them up from the container set out there.
This Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 pm we will be holding our Lenten Reflection and Adoration/Benediction in the church. I will give a presentation on forgiveness and then expose the Blessed Sacrament. After some quiet time with the Lord, we will close with Benediction. Please join us. Safety procedures will be in place.
The First Sunday of Lent always presents the temptations of Jesus in the desert. While the other evangelists give a lot of detail, Mark simply tells us that Jesus was tempted. Jesus’ temptations were basically to use his gifts and power for himself, rather than others. He resisted the temptations and that clarified for Him what He had to do: He immediately began His ministry of healing, while proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
I would like to point out three small details that Mark mentions, details that shed light on our temptations and times of difficulty or “desert experiences.” We are told, “The Spirit drove Jesus out in to the desert.” Jesus didn’t want to have a desert experience. The desert experience was necessary for Him to discern how He was to live His life. Sometimes our difficulties in life, our “desert experiences,” are really a blessing, an opportunity for us to reflect and rearrange our priorities in life. They can help us find a whole new direction!
Then we are told He was “among wild beasts.” Wild beasts are dangerous; they want to devour us. The same is true of our untamed desires and emotions: they can devour us. They are always with us.
But we are also told that angels ministered to Him. So, He was not alone, He had the help he needed, as do we. God does not leave us alone. We have the sacraments, we have the scriptures, we have our faith community, and we have friends and mentors who can be with us and help protect us from our wild beasts.
Lent is a time to voluntarily look at the temptations and wild beasts that are keeping us from growing as disciples of Christ who bring love and peace to the world. I like to ask myself, “how do I want to be different when I celebrate the Resurrection this year and what practical steps can I take to make sure it happens?” I invite you to ask yourself the same question. And as we struggle to grow as disciples, let us support each other in prayer.
Our total for the Salvatorian Sunday collection is now at $4,752. I thank you for your generosity.
This week Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. A generous parishioner has donated the Little Black Book for Lent, as well as a Little Purple Lent activities book for children. They are available, starting today, in the back of church and in the parish office. After Ash Wednesday, they will be available on a table outside the main door of the church, for those who wish to drive by and pick up their copies. Please use these excellent resources to enter into the season of Lent.
On Tuesday, February 23rd, we will hold our Lenten Reflection and Benediction from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Please join us in the church for a short presentation and quiet time with the Lord.
The Wauwatosa Common Council has unanimously approved Cardinal Capital’s plans for senior housing on our parking lot. Now they will work with city officials to make sure everything is meeting codes, but it is almost certain the project will move forward. I thank our Director of Operations and Finance, Dean Weyer, for his tireless efforts over the years to bring this to fruition.
Our Gospel this weekend is about the cure of a leper who approaches Jesus and says, “If you wish, you can cure me.” There are a number of points we can reflect on. First, notice the faith of the man. He believes that Jesus can heal him and he asks. He approaches Jesus, he takes the initiative.
We are told that Jesus was “moved with pity.” How often do we hear of his compassion? And what does Jesus do? He reaches out and TOUCHES the unclean man with two possible negative consequences: Jesus instantly became ritually unclean and he could have become contaminated himself. What a model for us of compassion and love!
How does the man react? Even though Jesus told him not to say anything, the man could not contain his joy. We hear, The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad…
That, my friends, is evangelization: spreading the Good News. The man knew what Jesus had done for him and could not avoid sharing the news with others.
This helps me realize how important it is for me to make myself consciously aware of all the ways the Lord blesses me, all the good things the Lord has done for me. With that realization, I will hopefully react as did the leper, sharing the Good News with others.
That, I think, is the wisdom behind the spiritual practice of listing blessings on a regular basis and thanking God for them. Perhaps it is a good Lenten practice: before going to bed, take a few moments to reflect on the good things you have experienced that day and thank God for His generosity. Hopefully, that realization will help us to joyfully share with others “all that the Lord has done for us.”
My prayer is that this Lenten season may be a period of spiritual renewal for each one of us. Please enter into it wholeheartedly. God bless.
Thank you to all who supported our Salvatorian Sunday collection. As of February 1st, $3,957 was collected. I appreciate your support of my community.
Reflections in the Little Black Books for adults and Little Purple Books for children begin with this coming Sunday, the Sunday before Lent. We are beginning to distribute them after Masses this weekend. There will also be prayer cards from the diocese. You can also pick up copies in the back of church and in the parish office. After Ash Wednesday, I will have them outside the main door of the church in a box on a table, as I did for Advent, so you can drive by and get a copy. Please take advantage of these wonderful resources to enter more fully into the season of preparation to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. And don’t forget about our Lenten Reflection at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, February 23rd, in the church!
In our Gospel today, Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law of an unnamed illness. There are two points I would like to make about this reading.
First, notice the three verbs that are used to describe what Jesus does: he approached her. Jesus always approaches us. He is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him. Grasped her hand: notice how often Jesus uses touch in His cures. But He needs to be close to us in order to touch us. Finally, helped her up. The verb used here is the same verb that is used for Jesus’ resurrection. The implication is that He did more than help her out of bed; He saved her. The point for us is to make sure we are spending time with the Lord, allowing the Lord to approach us and touch us. We need to do that every day.
Second, notice the mother-in-law’s response: she waited on them. The literal meaning of the word used for “waited” is “to give service,” the word from which we get “deacon.” The point for us is that our response to this generous love of the Lord toward us is to go forth in service to others, generously sharing that love as it has been shared with us.
That is one way to describe a Christian: one who allows the Lord to approach, touch, and save and then goes forth in service to others. I invite us to reflect this week on how we are doing with those two aspects of being a Christian, that is, spending quiet time with the Lord and being of service to others. Where do I need to grow the most? What practical steps can I take to make sure that growth happens?
As we strive to grow as disciples, let us support each other in prayer.