“Just Give In”
I came across the following spiritual reflection written by David Kobak, OFM, who presents a positive way of looking at Lent, and what it means to be on this journey of faith for 40 days. He writes,
“At the beginning of Lent every year, the common talk among children and adults is about what they intend to give up for 40 days until Easter. When children ask me what I am giving up for Lent, my reply is. ‘Nothing.’ I let them sit with that thought for a few seconds. Then I go on. ‘Lent is not about giving up, it is about giving in!’ Giving into the Holy Spirit and allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire within our lives good, permanent changes-not temporary ones.
Lent is a season to purify our bodies and spirits as we anticipate Holy Week and the Easter season. It is viewed by many Catholics as a somber and dark season. In reality, Lent is a joyful season, a time of inner retreat and renewal. With positive, permanent change in ourselves, we become more deeply human and Christian. Those good changes affect not only ourselves, but those around us; life itself becomes brighter and joyful.”
May these 40 days of Lent be filled with joy and peace. May the Holy Spirit and the Real Presence of Jesus in the word and sacrament change our life for the better.
On Tuesday, the 2nd Graders joined me (photo, right) as we burned the palms from last year in preparation for the coming of Ash Wednesday. (I guess it’s one way to stay warm this winter!)
A Festival of Forgiveness
Pope Francis has described his vision of Church as a field hospital in the middle of a terrible wounded world. “The Church herself is populated by wounded and sinful members, but by God’s grace she still serves as an instrument of healing and forgiving mercy.”
This Lent, the Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago wants to bring the medicine of mercy not only to the Catholic faithful but also to anyone who stands in need of healing and forgiveness. A “Festival of Forgiveness,” will be celebrated from noon on Friday, February 27th to noon on Saturday, February 28th. Over 20 designated parishes will stay open for 24 hours, and staffed with priests so that people can come and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Holy Name Cathedral, at Chicago Avenue and State Street, will be the closest parish to Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes that will open for the 24 hours. (For a complete parish list and locations, click here.)
I encourage all parishioners to prayerfully and seriously consider taking advantage of this remarkable opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy; especially as we journey through the Lenten season. I invite parents to model for their young children the value of celebrating the sacrament as part of our willingness to deepen our life-long relationship with God.
Even if it has been a long time since you went to confession, know that you will be received with kindness and compassion. It does not matter how grave or light your sins may be. There is a beautiful saying that reminds us that, “Jesus always hated the sin, but loved the sinner.” This is how I approach the sacrament.
Also, another blessing that comes with the Festival of Faith for some parishioners is that they may feel more comfortable going to a different church and celebrating the sacrament with a priest who does not know them. The desire for anonymity is understandable.
In conjunction with the Festival of Faith, there will be a priest available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before all the weekend Masses at Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes on Saturday evening, February 28th and Sunday morning, February 29th. This will be the Lenten schedule for additional confessions in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
(ADD FESTIVAL OF FORG IMAGE)
Discerning Our Sins
Before confessing our sins, it is helpful to invite the Holy Spirit to help us examine our conscience. We pause to reflect on our activities and attitudes. We let God know what we have learned and that we are sorry.
There are many ways to examine our conscience. Many people use the Ten Commandments to remind them of what they have done. Others use the Beatitudes, a positive framework for seeking blessedness. An examination of conscience is not like a test you take and report to the priest point by point. Rather, it jogs your memory to think about sins you may have ignored and see how they connect with each other. An examination of conscience helps you to listen for God’s Spirit and summarize what you would like to say.
Remember to look into the past, to see what wrongs you have done. Remember to look at the present, to see the habits you want to break. Remember to look to the future, to see how you could change for the better.
A Beginning of a New Chapter
Mary Jameyfield, our Director of Music, informed me last weekend that she has accepted a parish position of employment in the Diocese of Gary and that her time with Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes will be coming to a close on Saturday, March 7th. Mary has served our two parishes for over 20 years.
This will certainly be a sad good-bye and her talents and skills will be greatly missed. We will be able to express our appreciation and gratitude for all that Mary has accomplished during her time with us at the 5:00 PM Mass on Saturday, March 7th. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall at Immaculate Conception. We wish Mary well as she begins a new chapter in her career. Please keep Mary, and our parishes, in your prayers during this time of transition.
We will be counting the number of people who attend each Mass during the season of Lent. This survey is usually performed throughout October in conjunction with the Office of Research and Planning for the Archdiocese. However, with the Chicago Marathon, the annual data that we provide is somewhat skewed. Please make every effort to attend Sunday Mass at either Immaculate Conception or St. Joseph so that our accounting will be accurate for the month of March.
Come to St. Joseph’s Table
We will celebrate the fast of St. Joseph next month with a traditional St. Joseph Table. Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 22nd for a 12:00 noon Pot-Luck Lunch in the gym at the Hill Street campus of our school. Last year we had a real nice gathering of parishioners from both parishes.