I saw several commercials a few weeks ago where Oprah Winfrey was encouraging people to get on a particular diet and exercise program in order to make 2016 their healthiest year ever. Oprah has a huge following and a lot of advertising money so I’m sure people will jump on the band wagon.
Watching Oprah’s success, I would like to make a similar pitch to our parish family. Admittedly I don’t have a huge following like Oprah and my advertising budget is nonexistent - but I still am going to encourage our two communities to make 2016 our healthiest SPIRITUAL year! Since every journey begins with the first step, I think the gateway to spiritual growth for many people is the season of Lent. Lent is a time in our Church calendar that inspires people to step out of their routine and do more in order to build up their relationship with Christ. I love the season of Lent and am especially excited about this one since we have two communities journeying the season together. I believe we have a great Lent in store for you and I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of those things with you.
Lent is very early this year and begins on February 10th with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. To assist our journey I’m happy to report that we will once again have the “Little Black Books” available for our families. These books, along with the “Little Purple Books,” designed for our children, are daily Lenten meditations. We are also very blessed, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, to have Matthew Kelly’s book, “Rediscover Jesus” available to our parishioners. Matthew Kelly is a great and energized modern evangelist and I know you’ll enjoy his book.
Part of our Lenten journey should also involve the Sacraments of Healing. This year we will be having our combined penance service at St. Matthew’s Church on March 7th at 7:00 pm. We hope to have seven priests available for the sacrament. The healing liturgy, where we will be offering the Sacrament of the Sick, will be held at St. Bernard Church on February 28th at 3:00 pm. Anyone who would like to be anointed is encouraged to attend this moving liturgy.
Lenten Missions are often a part of Lent and we are pleased to invite Sr. Elissa Rinere, C.P. to be our presenter on February 20th at St. Matthew Church. The mission begins at 10:00 am and will end at 12:00 pm. Missions are great motivators of faith and I would encourage you to do your best to set this time aside for the Lord. February 13th through the 20th we will be offering a program of prayer and spiritual identity entitled, “A Week of Guided Prayer”.
These opportunities, along with our scheduled Masses and Stations of the Cross, are just a few of the things our combined communities are offering this Lent. Free Will, however, plays a huge part in your journey. God’s Grace is always available but we have to take the time and go out and meet Him.
The final item I need to share with you involves the celebration of the Holy Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. These three holy days are in fact one liturgy. The Diocesan guidelines for yoked parishes directs us to have these three liturgies at one site. This year we will hold the Triduum at Saint Bernard Church. Next year the celebrations will take place at Saint Matthew Church. Easter Sunday each Church will have its own three Masses.
I’m excited for this combined celebration and I am so grateful that our music ministries are working together along with lectors and ministers of the Eucharist. We have two great communities and I know our combined efforts will bear great fruit and 2016 will be our best SPIRITUAL year yet!