Christ goes with us!
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
It is hard to believe we are at this point already, but we are preparing to enter into the desert. Lent is just around the corner, as this coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. When God’s people were wandering in the desert, after having been led out of slavery in Egypt, the Ark of the Covenant (cover picture) was a symbol of the presence of God with them. The golden cherubim with wings spread over the lid made up what was known as the “Mercy seat”, where God’s presence was to dwell when He spoke to Moses. Within the ark were the tablets, upon which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, symbolizing both God’s initiative in offering us guidance for our lives and our obligation of responding in loving and trusting obedience. The ark also contained some of the manna, serving as a reminder of God’s providential care for them in their need, as well as their reluctance to trust in Him, in the midst of their hunger. They had to trust that God would meet their needs, rather than give into the temptation to turn back to Egypt. The desert becomes a place where we learn to trust God, where we allow ourselves to hunger and to thirst, both to rediscover God’s faithfulness and to recall that He alone satisfies. It is a place where we allow the confidence we have in His Mercy to embolden us not to turn back toward the ease that we might find in a life of slavery to sin, but to embrace the joy of belonging to this glorious covenant relationship with God, even when it is challenging. We are able to do all of this because we do not go into the desert alone, but rather to be alone with Him. He goes with us. He beckons us to be with Him in the desert. So, in these final days before Ash Wednesday, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us courage in discerning how we will respond to Christ’s invitation into the desert this Lent. How will we hunger? How will we thirst? How will we challenge ourselves to trust more fully in His providential care? Let us take time to prayerfully discern a bold plan for our Lent, which includes all three of the disciplines that Christ and His Church have proposed to us for Lent: Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving. Let us not neglect any of these elements or settle for a superficial observance of them, but seek to be alone with Christ in the desert, hungering and thirsting with Him, longing for the God, whose providential care can always be counted upon. Finally, consider that the Ark of the Covenant was also carried into battle, as both a sign and an instrument of victory. If we must do battle in the desert, just as Christ contended with Satan during His 40 day sojourn in the desert, let us trust in the victory of the Resurrection, which awaits us in Easter!
LENT AT SAINT LOUIS PARISH: I am very much looking forward to sharing some Lenten communal observances with you all. First, similar to our practice in Advent, we will increase opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to include 1) 7:45-8:15 AM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 2) an evening Holy Hour with Confessions on Wednesday, March 7th (7-8 PM) 3) after each weekend Mass on March 17-18th, and 4) an Area-Wide Lenten Penance Service at St. Joseph’s in Peru on Thursday, March 22 (4:30-7 PM). Also, I look forward to celebrating the Stations of the Cross every Friday at 5pm in the church! Fridays during Lent are a time to reflect upon the endless Love of God, revealed in the death of Christ on the Cross. I recall how this was influential even when I was a child. My encouragement to our families to participate in this great tradition cannot be overstated. I am looking forward to also sharing a few “simple suppers” together after stations. Look forward to more information on that to come, but the first will be on February 23rd. Lastly, we will have an additional stations at 3:30 PM on Friday, March 16th, in order to encourage participation in both Stations of the Cross and our parish Fish Fry, which is a beloved tradition and opportunity for fellowship for our community.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!