“The fruit of the tree shows the care it has had…” These thought-provoking words from
our first reading this weekend serve as a kind of linchpin in the readings, particularly as they are echoed in the words of Our Lord in this weekend’s Gospel: “For every tree is known by its fruit.” Our first reading is a very brief glimpse at the Book of Sirach, which our daily Mass readings (always worth reading, even when you can’t make it to Daily Mass) have been studying this past week and will continue for the next couple of days, until we come to Ash Wednesday. This book of Wisdom Literature is worth taking some time to look at more closely, as it invites us to ponder how the wisdom we need in order to live a truly good life is a gift given to us in the Law of God. But, even before the law was directly given to Moses, His Wisdom was stamped into creation, ordering all according to His will. While Sirach challenges us to allow His will to order our lives by heeding the commands of the Lord, it draws to a close with a long song of praise of the many models of wisdom and righteousness throughout salvation history. But, this song of praise begins with a kind of “prologue” which wonders at the wisdom of creation.
Since this book has been chosen by the Holy Spirit to help us prepare for Lent in these final days, it is good for us to respond by going back and considering the wisdom of God’s plan for creation, in order to allow ourselves to be created anew. That is why we are featuring yet another image (front cover) from our atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) hallway: the closeup of the hands of Adam and of the Creator, in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As we prepare for Lent, let us recall that God is always reaching out to us and He is far nearer than we realize. Our hearts were made with a natural desire for Him, who made us for Himself. Thus, we also reach out to Him. But, over time, we grow weary and fatigued and our reaching begins to become limp. We neglect the care of “the tree,” which is our souls, and it begins to bear fruit in our words and deeds. But, the Father’s reach remains constant and strong. Thus, the Season of Lent is a gift given to rouse us from our weariness, that we may reach for Him with renewed strength and love. As we consider what sacrifices we will make, may we not groan and think “not this time of year again.” Rather, let us ready our hearts with gratitude for this season of allowing our Creator to create us anew.
RECONCILIATION AND THE CROSS, THE CENTERPIECE OF LENT: In planning the Lenten Spirituality Series (see the Adult Discipleship section), it has been rather amazing to see how God’s hand has been at work, even in the smallest details. One example of this is found in that we will have two weeks of class, one week without, followed by two more weeks of class. The exciting part, however, is to see how that week in the middle is not a “week off” but is truly the centerpiece of the whole Lenten Series, with Reconciliation and the Stations of the Cross. On Wednesday (3/27) of that week, we will have our Lenten Holy Hour with Reconciliation at 7 PM. Then, on Friday (3/29), we will have a special Children’s Stations of the Cross, followed by our Parish Simple Supper beginning at 5 PM. This event will be open to the whole parish and to demonstrate that it is truly for all, we are using the reflections for stations designed for children, in order to make it as accessible as possible for all ages. This will also help us all to embrace our identity as children of God.
MANY MORE OPTIONS: But, of course these will not be the only chances for either reconciliation or stations. As usual, we will have stations at 5 PM every Friday, as well as a bonus earlier stations at 3:30 on April 5th, on the day of our Parish Fish Fry. Also, remember that on Good Friday (4/19), stations will be at noon only, the hour when Our Lord was nailed to the cross. Meanwhile, reconciliation will be available many times, as usual:
1) Six days/week:
4:30-5 PM, Mondays and Thursdays
7:45-8:15 AM, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
3-3:45 PM, Saturday
2) After all weekend Masses on March 16-17
3) The Holy Hour with Reconciliation on March 27th, at 7 PM
4) Regional Penance Service at Holy Family in Oglesby on April 11
ANOTHER OLD FRIEND VISITING: Finally, back by popular demand, former Pastor of Saint Louis Parish 2001-2003, Msgr. James Ramer will be our guest celebrant again next weekend, for three Masses for the First Sunday in Lent (3/10-11). Many people shared how much they enjoyed having him visit when he was last here in December of 2017, as did both he and I. He will celebrate the 4 PM (Sat), 7:30 AM & 9:00 AM (Sun), while I will focus on the 10:30 AM Children’s Mass.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!