Pastor’s Pen – March 6, 2011

Published on 06. Mar, 2011 by in Pastor's Pen

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Lent is late this year…

If you remember in 2008, the date for Easter Sunday was about as early as it could be.  Falling on April 24th, this year’s celebration of Easter finds it about as late as it could be.  (Technically speaking, it actually could be one day later, mirroring the fact that in 2008 it could have been one day earlier.)  So we have a late Lent this year.  This is good news to our Fish Fryers, who will not have to brave the cold as much as in the past.  (Though with is as crazy as this winter has been, I am not counting on anything…)

It strikes me this late date also gives us an opportunity this Lent that we don’t often have – the chance to slow down our days by being OUTSIDE for a while.  Having just returned from a vacation in the warm Caribbean, I relished the opportunity to spend time under the stars at night time without freezing, and moments walking during the day soaking in the sun’s warmth.  In a society that gets so crazy busy, there is nothing like being outside to slow down the pace, and to allow time for centering oneself in God’s presence by a kind of walking prayer.

So, as you spend time choosing the disciplines that will mark the Season of Lent this year, take advantage of the warmth and do a little outside walking and praying and slowing down.  Not only will it do the spirit good, but the heart and body as well will enjoy the benefit.  And then, when you are signed by those ashes this Wednesday, commit to the journey we all pledge to walk – to connect more deeply by our prayer, fasting and almsgiving to our Savior, our Lord and brother.

Only 266 more days…

No, that is not the number of shopping days left before Christmas.  That is the number of days until the First Sunday of Advent, which will be the day we implement the new English translation of the new Latin translation of the Roman Missal.  From the responses we pray to the Mass parts we sing, a lot of the words will change.  This is a great opportunity to do a little study and reflection on the mass which we so often can take for granted.  I encourage you to join Phil Kril on Fridays after the Fish Fry, up in church, to begin your process of learning anew how to pray with the Church our great act of Thanksgiving.  There is the ‘early bird’ session – from 6:30 to 7:00.  And the later session: from 7:05 – 7:35, for three Fridays in a row, beginning March 18th

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A classmate of mine (Fr. Kevin Schmittgens) did a rather fascinating project with his high school students, a project I encourage you to do as well. Simply put: they were asked to write a memoir of their lives. The trick was, they could only use six words. He actually stole the idea from a book he read which is based on this very simple, yet very intriguing premise.

Some of the memoirs were goofy, yet revealed some truth nonetheless. One procrastinator just scribbled very quickly: This is not good. I’m sorry. Another bold young man, stealing from Julius Caesar wrote: I came, I saw, I conquered. Some were very upbeat, while others are rather poignant. One girl, a dancer and an incredibly intelligent student wrote: Dancing through life, stumbling over myself. Another wrote: Only my music knows the truth.

Fr. Kevin writes: “One of the memoirs really stuck with me. It stuck because I believe that it is one that a lot of people experience, if not all of humanity. She simply wrote: I’m used to the word “no.” I’m used to the word “no.” Isn’t that the story of humanity in general? We sin. We say no to life. We suffer. Life says “no” to us. And we die – the ultimate “no” perpetrated on humanity. No. No. No. No. No. No. They are all before us, beside us, around us and inside us. And we begin to believe them. You can’t change the world. You can’t make a difference. You’re not good enough or smart enough or… whatever. And pretty soon, we believe that message. To paraphrase a vulgar bumper sticker: Life’s a “no” then you die.”

The disciples in the gospel had already succumbed to that “NO” mentality. When the women came back and reported what they had seen – what is their response? NONSENSE! Couldn’t be! He is dead! He is finished! (We are finished) Could Jesus be alive? The answer is no! I wonder how often I jump to that same conclusion. Could God be doing something NEW in my life? “Nonsense”.

But on Easter, we remember, we celebrate, we rejoice in a God who firmly and unequivocally responds to all of life with a “yes.” By raising Jesus from the dead, God says “yes” to creation, “yes” to life, “yes” to us. “God, are you there?” Yes. “God, do you care?” Yes. “Do you forgive us?” Yes. “Is the long reign of sin and sadness ended?” Yes. “Do you give us the chance and grace to start over?” Yes!

What Peter went to check out – if just to get the women to shut up – is the most impossible, implausible YES in all of the world. And there, Luke’s gospel leaves us this Easter evening – along with Simon Peter, peering into the empty tomb of our “NO”s, looking at all the ways we’ve shortchanged ourselves and God and life – wondering if there might be a different outcome, a different possibility.

So we too, stand before the empty tomb, and we remember this central, vital, essential tenet of our faith. We stand against the night, against the darkness, against the hate, against the futility, against the gloom, against the senselessness and dedicate ourselves to living the fullness of life in Christ. Our lives must now be a “yes” and we need to share that with a world that is far too used to the word “no.”

Because of Easter, our memoir can now and always be written in six words.

Christ is risen! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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