Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Feb 22, 2023

Today is the First Sunday of Lent and we hear of the temptations of Jesus in the Gospel.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record how Jesus went out into the desert after His baptism in the Jordan to fast and pray.  Jesus went to the desert to prepare Himself for the ministry He was about to begin.  The devil tempts Him to use His power to show everyone who He is; changing stones into bread, throwing Himself off the temple, and gaining the whole world by bowing down to the devil.  Jesus came to reveal to us the glory of God through His love and mercy, but not in a way that we would be overcome by His power.  Jesus came to show us God’s love by acts of love and mercy based on our willingness to open our minds and hearts to God in faith.  Even now 2000 years later Jesus comes to us in the same way.  As we listen to the Word of God we are not overcome by the power of His Word, but His Word challenges us to love God and neighbor.  Jesus heals today as He did when He walked the earth as He touches us through the Church and the sacraments.  We see this especially in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  These are powerful signs of God’s love and power which we can only see through the eyes of faith.  Jesus never wishes to overpower us; He simply wants to invite us to come to Him, believe in Him, and love Him.

Lent is a great opportunity to grow in our relationship with Jesus, a relationship that began at our baptism and can only grow stronger by our turning to Him.  Lent has many opportunities to turn to Jesus by participating in the sacrament more often, making sure we go to confession, and go to Mass more often than just on Sundays.  There are other opportunities of prayer by attending Stations of the Cross on Wednesday afternoons or Friday evenings, attending the Parish Lenten Mission the weekend of March 5 & 12, or making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel of Divine Mercy.  We can also take more time to carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in our daily lives by helping our brothers and sisters with both their material and spiritual needs.

Lent can be a powerful time of growth in our lives if we but turn to Jesus and ask Him to help us to carry out His Word in our daily lives.  From the early Church, Lent was meant to be a time of repentance, which is, turning to the Lord.  To repent is more than seeking forgiveness for our sins it is turning to Jesus so that we can become more like Him in all that we do.

This year our diocesan wide Evening of Reconciliation will be on Wednesday, March 8, from 5 to 8 PM in all the churches throughout the diocese.  Our parish Communal Penance for Lent will be on Wednesday, March 13, at 7 PM in the church.  Do not be afraid to approach Jesus in confession.  He is waiting for you, and He is calling you to come to Him with all His love.  Immerse yourself in His ocean of mercy just as He told St. Faustina.

Remember that during the season of Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross each Wednesday afternoon with the school children starting on Wednesday, March 1.  The times will vary because of the school schedule so check the bulletin for the correct time.  We also pray the Stations with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday evenings at 7 PM in the church.  The Stations of the Cross are a very sacred tradition in the Church and a very prayerful way to remember the sufferings and death of Jesus, which He endured for love of us.

BEST LENT EVER: The Holy Season of Lent has begun and as in the past you can make it the best lent ever.  Dynamic Catholic is again offering to help us in making this Lenten Season a time of growth in our relationship with Jesus.  When you sign up you will receive e mails with a variety of spiritual reflections to help you use this holy season as a time for you to get to know Jesus better and yourself at the same time.  Just go to the web site and sign up.  It’s FREE.

NEW HYMNALS!  Our new hymnals have arrived and should be in the pews soon.  You will also find a new musical setting for the parts of the Mass that are sung.  This is the Mass of St. Philip Neri and we will be learning to sing this Mass over the next few weeks.  The new hymnal still has the same format with the readings for each Sunday and an excellent selection of hymns.  The hymns may seem a little more traditional, but I believe that is good as it will lend more reverence and prayerfulness to our worship of God.  Taste in music can vary a great deal among people.  This is not about what a person likes in church hymns, it is really about what the hymns say to God in our worship.  Many of the older and more familiar hymns speak words of praise and thanks to God; they speak of His glory and the glory of our Blessed Mother and the Saints.  Many of the more modern hymns seem to be telling God what we are doing for Him and others.  From my study this is what hymns are meant to do.  Look at the hymn, “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” we speak these words to God and praise Him for all he does for us.  A hymn like, “Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God,” or “Gather Your People, O Lord” is more like us talking to God and one another about what we are doing or should be doing.  It is just not the same thing.  I hope we will find this new hymnal very helpful in directing our hymns to God as they should be.  I hope we will all be able to participate in the Mass in a deeper and more prayerful way.  If anyone is so inclined to donate toward the new hymnal, please let me know.  Your generosity is always welcome and appreciated.

Fr. Joe Labak