My Dear Friends:
As we begin the season of Lent, our hearts are obviously heavy with the events transpiring in Ukraine. On Ash Wednesday, we all spent the day in fasting and prayer to implore our Lord, the Prince of Peace, to restore peace and stability to that region. We have been edified by the example of Ukrainian priests and religious who have stayed behind to serve their suffering people. May we continue to make sacrifices and do penance during this Lenten season for peace in our world.
The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is what we contemplate during every Lent. The crushing reality of the cross is something that we cannot ignore. Like Christ, we must embrace the cross, especially our personal ones, in order to attain salvation. We cannot look past Calvary and just focus on the empty tomb. There would be no victory on Easter Morning without Good Friday. That is why this week we will focus as a parish on the mystery of Christ’s passion and death.
After the success of the exhibit of the Eucharistic Miracles a few months ago, we’ve invited the same people back to our parish to bring their exhibit on the “Sacred Cloths of the Passion.” Among them is obviously the Shroud of Turin. I remember a few years ago standing before an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin when I was abroad. I was mesmerized by the details of the shroud but also by the violence of the Cross that we so often overlook. When we sit and contemplate the sheer brutality of what our Lord went through to conquer sin and death, the beating he took, and the scars he bears, we understand the reaction of St. Thomas the Apostle who fell to his knees and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
Yes, it is the perfect time to bring in this exhibit, and I invite all of you this Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. to Comber Hall for the formal presentation of the exhibit. Comber Hall will be open from 4:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. As a bonus, we will also have the same presentation given after the 8:00 a.m. Mass on Thursday, March 10. The presentation will be at 8:45 a.m. and the hall will be open for the exhibit on Thursday until 11:00 a.m. Join your fellow parishioners in contemplating the sacred shrouds of our Lord’s passion. May these exhibits and presentations allow us to feel closer to Jesus’ suffering and the suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world who are victims of violence, especially in Ukraine and other war-torn countries.
Finally, last Tuesday the Archbishop lifted a few more COVID related restrictions when it came to the Mass. Masks continue to be optional regardless of vaccination status and social distancing has been eliminated. The Sign of Peace and the Offertory Procession have been restored! (Please be patient as we reinstitute these parts of the liturgy in our parish, which here includes the return of the traditional Children’s Collection which I participated in when I was a boy.) I received that letter from the Archbishop two days before Lent started and saw it as a battle cry: it is time to bring ALL our people back to Mass! We have been blessed here at Little Flower with good Mass attendance during the pandemic especially at daily Mass, but I need all of you to join in the effort to bring everyone back to God’s house during Lent. Invite your friends and families who may be hesitant to come back to our beautiful church during this sacred season. Yes, the livestreams will continue for the sick and infirmed, but even our sick parishioners rejoice when they see our church full. Spread the word! Bring a friend who has been away back to Mass! Let that be part of our Lenten journey!
God bless you all,