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  • Writer's pictureFather George

From Father George's Desk 2/18/24

This weekend at the 10:30 Mass at Holy Family, we are celebrating the Rite of Sending for our RCIA catechumens and candidates. Catechumens are those individuals who are preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil and then be confirmed and receive First Holy Communion. Candidates are those who either have already been baptized but have never received the other two sacraments of initiation orhave been baptized in another Christian tradition but wish to be re ceived into the full communion of the Catholic Church. We are sending them to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg to present them to Bishop Kulick at the Rite of Election for catechumens and the Call to Continuing Conversion for candidates for full reception into the Church. Please keep them in your prayers during this Lenten Season as they enter their period of final preparation for the Easter Sacraments.

Lent is a very active time of year for our parishes (as it is in most any parish) and in our individual lives of faith. There are many opportunities for our spiritual development in the coming weeks…It’s a good time of the year to make a resolution to attend daily Mass when possible, even if it’s only once a week. Copies of the Little Black Book, daily reflections for the Lenten Season, are still available. Stations of Cross are prayed each Friday at 9:00AM at Holy Family with the CDT school community, Noon at St. John and at 6:00PM at Holy Family; this venerable devotion, popularized by St. Francis of Assisi in the Middle Ages, (which, sadly, seems to have fallen out of favor among many Catholics, given the poor attendance in many parishes) allows us the opportunity to reflect upon the saving death of our Lord as we trace the steps of the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows). Bishop Kulick will be offering a series of Lenten Reflections at various parishes around the diocese each week, beginning this Tuesday at St. Bartholomew in Crabtree; check the diocesan website for more information and the complete schedule. Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation...each Saturday at 3:00PM at Holy Family and 4:15PM at St. John. And our Regional Lenten Penance Services begin March 7.

The 2024 Diocesan Lenten Appeal is getting underway; all registered households should be receiving this year’s mailing very soon, if you haven’t already.

If we view Lent as a time a time to temporarily change our spiritual habits, however, we are missing point. Yes, Lent is about preparing ourselves for coming celebration of the Paschal Mystery but the work that we do in this season should bolster our spiritual lives to bring out positive and lasting change long after these Forty Days are over. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are often referred to as the Lenten triad. We should not view them as separate “menu items” for us to pick and choose from. To truly have value, we Catholic Christians must take them together: The three practices should be intertwined. Prayer can soften hearts and awaken compassion, making a person more likely to be generous to others. It also makes fasting more palatable. A deeper relationship with God leads to growing solidarity with the poor, a desire to imitate Christ in his poverty and a hope to be freed from the snares of our consumerist culture. Fasting aids prayer by reminding us of our dependence on God and can us in a practical way by saving money for alms. Finally, almsgiving can deepen our prayer as we are brought into contact with our brothers and sisters who live in poverty, and it can prompt an important question: Am I consuming too much? [America editorial, 2/18/13] So, in the midst of all of our Lenten activity it is vitally important for us to keep in mind the meaning of this season.

Through the intertwined practices of the Lenten triad, by all means, let us prepare ourselves to celebrate our redemption and salvation at the Paschal Triduum. But may our practices over these Forty Days also bring about permanent positive change in each of us, in our Church, and in our world.

On Friday the Church honors bishop and martyr, St. Polycarp. We don’t’ have many details of his life but it generally agreed that he was born around the year 69 and was converted to the faith by St. John, the apostle and evangelist, around year 80. He became bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor (in modern-day Turkey) around the year 96, and, since we was a disciple of St. John and a friend of many who personally knew Jesus, he was recognized as one of the most important leaders of the Church’s second generation. Polycarp fought against many heresies roiling the Church in the first half of the second century and helped bring stability as it grew and matured in the decades after the last of the apostles died. When he was 86-years-old, St. Polycarp was arrested and sentenced to death by being burned at the stake during a persecution of the Church. Witnesses say when the fire was lit, it would not consume his body so he had to be stabbed to death with a dagger.


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