February 25th – II Sunday of Lent

My Dear Friends,

As we continue our Lenten journey, like Jesus in the desert, we are often led to where we do not want to go. This is part of the great adventure of being a Christian: that as you follow Christ, he leads us down paths that we would not normally follow. Lent is also a time to correct those habits that become obstacles in the spiritual life. For me, it’s not looking at my watch during times of prayer and shutting out the entire world to focus solely on the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Christ deserves nothing but our full attention, and Lent is the time to perfect our relationship with our Lord especially when it comes to worship. 

As the spiritual father of this parish community, there are a few things that I would like to bring to your attention when it comes to our celebration of the Sunday Mass. As I have often said, Sunday Mass is the most important thing we do as a parish. It is more important than any of our ministries, more important than any class taught in our school, and more important than any retreat. As such, we must bring everything we are and commit our entire hearts to this celebration since that is precisely what Christ does for us when He becomes present in the Eucharist. So, I want to offer three small things that we can perfect as a community this Lent. 

Last week we printed in the bulletin an update on the balcony being inaccessible because of the move of the choir upstairs and our need to perfect what I call “the art of scooting.” Four of our five Sunday Masses are thankfully at capacity, and with the balcony no longer being a seating option, we’ve created standing room only which most times is not necessary because there are plenty of space available in the pews…if we make room for our fellow parishioners. Thus, “the art of scooting.” If you like to sit on the aisle, and trust me, I get you because I don’t board a plane unless my ticket is for an aisle seat, we invite you to sit along the center aisle because late comers don’t come in through the center aisle since the middle gate is closed once the presider walks in. For those on you who enter the pews on the side aisles, we invite you to “scoot” or sit towards the middle to make it easier for our ushers to find available seating for other parishioners and visitors. Another tip: sit towards the front. So many times we have a packed church and people standing along the walls and in the vestibule with plenty of available seating up near he front. Sitting closer to the altar also helps us eliminate distractions. 

The second suggestion is just a gentle reminder that is given to us at the beginning of every Mass: please put your cell phones on silent. Lately, our priests have noticed an uptick in cell phones going off during Mass. Let’s leave the outside world behind and shut out exterior noise. 

The last bit of pastoral advice is a little tricky but very necessary: please stay until the liturgy has concluded. We are so grateful that you are here, and we know that many of you put great effort into coming to Mass, but it saddens your priests when you receive Communion and dash out the door and are not present for the final blessing or give us an opportunity to greet you once Mass has ended. This doesn’t happen in all Masses. I’ll be bold and call out the Masses where this happens all too frequently: the 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Masses. When it comes to the 7:30 a.m. Mass, there is no music, and the Mass rarely makes it to 45 minutes. What’s the hurry? At 5:30 p.m., there are times the presider is walking out of the church and the back half of the church is already gone. It’s not only that your priests want to joyfully greet you after Mass, it’s what message are we sending our children, our fellow parishioners, and more importantly, Our Lord when we do not stay until the end of the most important thing we will do all week. Do we leave before a movie is finished? (And this is a poor analogy to compare a movie to the Mass but worth reflecting on.) Yes, I know there are parishioners who have sick relatives and families with young children at home who make great efforts to come to Mass, but this does not apply to everyone. Let us give our Sunday best to our Lord who gives us His very self in the Eucharist. Our Lord asked his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) That’s all our Lord asks from us when it comes to observing the Sabbath.  

May we grow as a parish community during this Lenten season in perfecting our celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Everything we are and everything we do as a parish flows from what we do and what we bring to this altar. Let’s bring our total self freed from all distractions and committed to spend a heavenly hour with our Savior.

God bless you all,

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