The Month of February 2019

My Friends,

A Great Season of Grace
It seems that we celebrated Christmas just a short time ago.  Only a few weeks ago the Christmas Trees, pine roping and wreaths were removed from inside and outside the church, and we returned to the Ordinary Time of the Church Year.

Now though, the Season of Lent will begin with our observance of Ash Wednesday on 6 March 2019. One of the Prefaces of the Eucharist Prayer for Lent calls these forty days “a great season of grace”.  This is a time for us to discard some of the excess baggage in our lives, and so be free to concentrate more intensely on what really matters. Here are some time-tested practices for accomplishing this:
We invest ourselves in deepening our communion with God in prayer.  Daily participation in the Mass, regular reading of the Bible, quiet time alone in God’s presence (at home or another place conducive to prayer, particularly a church or chapel), meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, and reflection on the Stations of the Cross, are just some of the practices that might be incorporated into your Lenten program. Communion with God transforms us!

Prayer, in all the many forms it takes, transforms us.  In turn in enables us to be instruments of transformation in the lives of others.

Another of the time-tested Lenten practices is fasting.  Whether it be from food or beverage, television time or other entertainments, criticism or gossip, or any of the myriad of things which are part of all our lives, fasting creates an empty space in us which makes room for God, and for the things of God!  Whenever we eliminate something from our lives, to which we are habitually accustomed, we likely go through “withdrawal symptoms” which then open the way for simpler living, and so a sharper focus and clearer insight into how congruent our way of life is with the way of life to which Jesus Christ calls us all.  When we seek to bring these two into greater harmony, we experience the ongoing conversion which is the project of the life of every Christian.

The third time-tested Lenten practice is works of charity.  Sometimes called almsgiving, this can include sacrificial contributions to the poor and those in need. It might be as concrete as the Rice Bowl Program providing food for the hungry, or Birthright for its work supporting young women with unplanned pregnancies who “choose life” for their babies, but have been rejected or abandoned by their families.  It can be as concrete, too, as the gift blood donors make.  Works of charity can also include visits to the homebound or, at least, a note or a telephone call to them.  So also, an unselfish gesture of reaching out to someone who habitually rubs you the wrong way can be a valuable work of charity, for both the one who gives and the one who receives it!

Minds and Hearts Renewed
Prayer, fasting, works of charity are the Lenten agenda which will prepare us – come Easter – to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with minds and hearts renewed!  If you do not yet have your Personal Lenten Program concretized, do so soon, so that this really is a great season of grace for you!  Be realistic about what you will undertake!  Be careful about setting so rigorous a program that it becomes too demanding, and sooner or later, you abandon it!  Less can be more here!  A few well-chosen practices which you keep faithfully throughout these forty days are best!

The Center of Our Praise and Thanksgiving
As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Solemn Consecration of the Fixed Altar of Sacrifice, we reflect on the symbol which the Altar is in every church.

There is an ancient maxim which says: “Lex credendi, lex orandi”.  It is translated: “The Church believes what the Church prays”.  For that reason, the following is a reflection which comes from the Prayer of Dedication which is part of the Altar Consecration rite.

“Bless this Altar built in the house of the Church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand for ever as the Lord’s Table, where Your people will find nourishment and strength.  Make this Altar a sign of Christ, from whose pierced side flowed blood and water, which ushered in the sacraments of the Church.  Make it a table of joy, where the friends of Christ may hasten to cast upon You their burdens and cares and take up their journey restored.  Make it a place of communion and peace, so that those who share the Body and Blood of Your Son, may be filled with His Holy Spirit, and grow in Your life of love.  Make it a source of unity and friendship, where Your people may gather as one to share Your Spirit of mutual love.  Make it the center of our praise and thanksgiving, until we arrive at the eternal tabernacle, where, together with Christ, high Priest and living Altar, we will offer You an everlasting sacrifice or praise.”

It is the mystery of redemption in Christ which we celebrate, and which becomes a present reality on the Altar.  Think about that!  Reflect prayerfully on that!

In Brief
Thanks be to God for the birth of Adelaide Jean Mazar, second child of David and Adrienne Mazar, on 29 January 2019.  We look forward to her baptism and welcoming her as the newest member of our parish family.

Thanks be to God for the birth of Adeline Grace Vouri, second born to former parishioners, Scott and Pam Vouri, on 6 January 2019.

Monsignor Delaney