Top Five Family things to do during Holy Week:
1. What do you do with the palm branches you bring home from Palm Sunday Mass? Consider a simple ceremony to place them in your home.
2. During the week, pray the seven Penitential Psalms together (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143; www.usccb.org/bible/psalms/6). These are especially appropriate during Lent. Prayerfully reciting these psalms helps us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow, and ask for God’s forgiveness.
3. Celebrate the Sacrament of Penance if you haven’t al-ready done so during Lent
(www.foryourmarriage.org/why-do-catholics-go-to-confession/). N.B. I will be in the confessional after mass on Tuesday and Wednesday, and after morning prayer on Good Friday and Holy Saturday until there are no more people in line.
4. Attend a service together on Holy Thursday and/or Good Friday. On Thursday, the Church recalls the Last Supper and Jesus’ gift of his Body and Blood. On Friday, parishes hold services to celebrate the Passion of the Lord; many have Stations of the Cross as well.
5. On Holy Saturday, pray for those who will be received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. Pray, too, for a deepening of your own faith and the grace to endure the suffering and celebrate the joys of married life.
The schedule for our common prayer during Holy Week is as follows:
8:00 a.m. Morning Prayer
10:00 a.m. Chrism Mass –at the Cathedral
7:00 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Adoration begins after Mass
11:30 p.m. Night Prayer
8:00 am: Morning Prayer (confessions follow)
3:00 pm: Stations of the Cross
7:00 pm: Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
8:00 am: Morning Prayer (confessions follow)
8:00 pm: Easter Vigil
8:00 a.m. Mass
11:00 a.m. Mass
— — — — — — — —
Save the date:
Parish Appreciation Party
Saturday, June 6, 2015 – 6:00 pm – Parish Center….
Pope Francis – Part 3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians
As individuals too, we are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?
First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer!
Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favorable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.
Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.
As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.
During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Make our hearts like yours.” In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.
It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesiastic community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you!
From the Vatican,
As mom celebrated 90 years of life in January, it was time for the Kempf family to be grateful. It is a great milestone to have achieved. However, all her kids notice that some things in mom’s life are not like they used to be. She is slower in walking, yet still gets around, using one of those ‘walkers on wheels’. Her knees hurt. She doesn’t eat as much. But, perhaps most frustrating for her AND for us, is the loss of memory. The long term structures are still there –she recognizes her own kids and can tell stories from ‘back in the day.’ That is the good news. The not so good news is that her short term memory is declining. She’ll often stop, mid sentence and ask: “Now what was I going to say?” I usually reply: “I can’t help you with that one mom.” More recently, I tell her: “You were about to tell me that you were bequeathing me a million dollars.” Or “That I was always your favorite son.” Which usually makes her laugh, and we move on.
It is, for her and for us, her children, the worst part of aging.
In some ways, we take for granted the gift of memory. But here is why Alzheimer’s is such a scary disease. It robs you of your memory, and in so doing, robs you of the coherent story line of your life. When you can’t remember “who” you are and “whose” you are, the family you belong to, the people who have befriended you, those who have walked with you on the journey of life, it can be incredibly difficult. Without connection to the past, we literally have to ‘reconstruct ourselves anew EACH day and each moment. Who am I? What do I believe in? What do I value? Without memory, it is hard to know…
So isn’t it fascinating how God uses that most difficult part of the aging process as a way to covenant himself to us ever more. “For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more…” I will remember their sins no more. Do you hear the opportunity in that? God, again and again, offers us the chance to “reconstruct ourselves anew.” By not remembering, by not HOLDING us accountable, by not pinning us down to a moment of failure or even a lifetime of failure, God sets up the situation whereby we might recreate ourselves anew EACH AND EVERY DAY. When I don’t have to relate to God as ‘the kid who had anger issues’ or the ‘one who was addicted to pornography’ or the ‘one who was unfaithful to their spouse – when GOD chooses not to remember me that way, then I can create myself anew each moment. And if God chooses to “Remember our sins no more” –than why do we spend so much time attached to them ourselves? God is not served by our holding ourselves bound when he has forgiven us. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself,” he promises. And since he already has been lifted up, then why do we not let ourselves be drawn to his love.
I had a brief conversation with someone at fish fry. Trying to encourage them to return to the practice of the faith. Resistant. Wondered if they are one of those folks who are holding themselves bound by something in the past, because it is ‘easier’ to hang on to the attachment to sin than it is to recreate themselves anew in God’s love?
What a freedom that affords me with others as well. If they don’t have to grovel for forgiveness, if thy no longer have to try to eke out a pardon from our cold, cold hearts, then isn’t there the possibility of something amazing to emerge? Think of the freedom that we can give them. I do not hold you bound. I, like God, remember your sins no more.
So, the challenge is simple for us this week. What if we truly forgot one of these sins by which we hold others bound. What if God was inviting us to do what he did in that wonderful last line from Jeremiah – to remember the other’s sins no more. (And to remember our own sins no more as well – to not let our failures hold us bound.) To let those event and wound and hurts be like the grain of wheat that must fall to the ground and die – so that there can be an explosion of love and life and forgiveness in our world. What a gift that would be.
“For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”
Though it might be the hardest part of the aging process, I proclaim to you that it is the greatest attribute of God – his choice to forget our sins. For it means that we truly have the OPPORTUNITY to create ourselves anew each day…
This season, this day, seize that chance!
When we think of the word verdict, I suspect most of us jump to the famous cases:
• Not guilty of attempting to assassinate President Reagan by reason of insanity.
• If the glove does not fit, you must acquit in the OJ Simpson trial.
• We find there is no probable cause to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.
We know those famous cases (or have read about them) that set the landscape for people’s experience of the judicial system. Most of us have opinions about how ‘good’ or how ‘bad’ a particular verdict was. But, for most of us, it is tempting to think of verdicts as things that happen ‘over there’, to that crowd, whoever and however you view that crowd. Jesus would have us paint that word with a broader brush.
Instead of limiting ‘verdict’ to “the formal finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge” Jesus expands that understanding. “This is the verdict: The light came into the world, but people preferred the darkness to the light, because their works were evil.” The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness.
We know that truth in so many arena’s, don’t we?
• there is the darkness that accepts abortion and now euthanasia as permissible choices
• there is the darkness that portrays pornography, prostitution and every ‘shade’ of sexual activity merely as forms of recreation.
• there is the darkness that sees men, women and children as chattel or pagan infidels, to be burned alive or beheaded as collateral damage in an unsanctioned war of terror.
• there is the darkness of the shooting of two police officers at the end of a night of protests against structures of injustice.
This is the verdict, folks – we have, as individuals, as members of our communities and our nation – chosen the darkness over the light. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that truth. Jesus was certainly confronted by people’s preference for darkness. Into that ‘verdict’ – that understanding of human nature – comes this appeal from Jesus: “Come to this light and live.” Come to the brightness and find that which brings meaning and love. Come and know a redeeming love that will set you free to walk in the daylight, even when it is dark around you. Come:
• know the light that discloses the value of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
• know the light that reveals that sexuality is meant to communicate love, commitment, warmth, tenderness and care for another person.
• know the light that discloses all people as God’s children whose hearts ache, whose eyes cry, and whose hands caress their loved ones.
• know the light that shows that those truly worth imitating are those who work non-violently to ease the suffering of the outcast, the poor, and the marginalized.
“This is THE verdict: The light came into the world, but people preferred the darkness to the light, because their works were evil.” Will you prefer the light or the darkness?
Here is the interesting twist to Jesus’ ‘verdict’. There is no jury involved. There is no solemn proclamation by the chief juror. Rather, the actions themselves contain the verdict. They either are bringing, however imperfectly, the world of the kingdom into this world, or they are not. The deeds that I do, the things that I choose, either help make this a world of light and goodness or they foster the darkness that we seem to have such a proclivity for.
For in the end, God SO loved the world that he gave us his only Son so we might know and live in the light. And the choices we make and the deeds we do – create within us the ‘verdict’. Our loving God, both now and at the end of our days, simply honors the choices we make.
So, what is your verdict looking like these days?
Pope Francis’ Letter on Lent, continued…
2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities
All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesiastical structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)?
In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways. In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfillment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).
We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people. Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbors, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.
After the sudden death of my cousin Pat Boul, I have been thinking about the Boul side of the family. In particular, I have been thinking about my uncle Wally. Fr. Wally Boul was the founding pastor of St. William’s church near the airport. And as nice a man he was to me and my brothers and sister, as compassionate as he could be with his parishioners in his latter years, there was this unyielding side to him that would come out every so often. He’d set his jaw in a certain way, and you knew that if you were opposing him at that moment you were in for a fight. Yet, as I reflect on my memory of him, the only time that I consistently saw that side of him was in two situations. 1) When someone was messing with the poor. At his first assignment, he caught someone stealing from the poor box. Wally chased him down the street, tackled, and had him pinned to the ground as he awaited someone getting the cop on the beat. By the time the police got there, his temper had spilled over. “Officer, would you look the other way.” WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! “You don’t steal from the poor, ever. Do you get that?” It is said that the thief was grateful to be handed over to the police. 2) When he was dealing with people who were in denial about their alcoholism.
You see, Uncle Wally was a recovering alcoholic. Because he knew the disease from the inside out, he was stern when he confronted people about their drinking. He would warn them, finger wagging and eyes ablaze – “this will destroy you if you don’t surrender to God in this. If you don’t get help – this will ruin your life and your marriage and your children.” And then he’d tell them: “I’ll go through the hell you’ll have to go through with you, but I can’t do it for you…” Because he knew the suffering involved, because he knew the effects on his own spiritual life, because he knew what it did to people and families, Wally Boul was zealous about people needing to be in recovery. You didn’t mess with Uncle Wally about alcoholism. It was a non-negotiable.
You didn’t mess with Jesus about his Father and the temple, either. When Jesus arrived in the temple that day, something flared up within him that was raw and primeval. “Don’t you be messing with my temple! Don’t you be messing with people’s experience of God!” Though the temple trade was ‘necessary’ for the average pilgrim (you didn’t want to have to worry about feeding your sacrificial animal and keeping him watered during the long walks to Jerusalem for the sacrifice, nor would you have to worry about being able to have the proper Jewish coins for the offerings – you could get all that stuff right outside the temple.) by the time that Jesus appeared on the scene, it had somehow gotten out of control. The court of the gentiles – where ANYONE could worship, and not just the Jewish people – had been completely taken over by the this legitimate temple trade, so much so, that anyone wishing to pray or connect in that outer temple, would have found it all but impossible. Because of the ‘rules’ that said you could only use Jewish coins, because of the ‘rules’ about sacrificing ritually pure animals – people were being shut out from approaching God. People were being kept away from the intent of the temple. “My house shall be a house of PRAYER for all peoples.” A place where people can connect to God, without interference, without meddling, without intermediaries. It was a non-negotiable for Jesus. People need to come to the Father. They need to have a relationship that is real and deep and nurtured by private and public prayer. You don’t get in the way of that process. Ever.
And it got me to thinking. If Jesus came to me, and took a deep, long look into my life and what I am doing, the choices I am making, the values that I have bought into, would I be the recipient of his anger? Would he discover within me, that which would block me from his father? Would he find that which would keep me from where I need to be? And if he came to the United States, and looked at our values as a country, as a nation, as a community, would he have some difficult things to say to us? About our commitment to life in all its forms? About the materialism that can so clutter our lives and our homes, while so many people continue to starve to death in Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa. About the racial bias that gets codified into our municipalities’ civil court system?
Though it is not an easy prayer meditation, I invite you to image Jesus crashing into your world this week, like he came into the temple, like my uncle would come to a person in denial about the effects of their drinking. And let the zeal for his house that consumed him, let the passion that breathed in my uncle’s love for people to be free of what controls them, be the zeal in your heart to let go of whatever keeps you from God. Amen. Amen.