Pastor’s Pen – February 17, 2023
The annual ritual of Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday, on February 22. But first comes Mardi Gras on Tuesday 2/21! – and our long-awaited parish talent show. Come and enjoy the Cajun dinner and the entertainment provided by fellow parishioners (including yours truly). Be sure to sign up HERE if you’re coming.
On Ash Wednesday (2/22) we’ll offer mass at 12:00PM and 7:00PM. Lent follows then for six weeks until Easter, the celebration of God’s victory over oppression and death in the raising up of Jesus. These six weeks are a time-honored period for reflection and spiritual growth, both for individuals and for our communities of faith. In the coming days the parish will publicize many options for you to engage in spiritual growth activities during this time, including Stations of the Cross every Friday in March, as well as community service opportunities offered by our 175th Anniversary committee. But it’s up to YOU to take advantage of them! We’ll send out a special email each week, and you can follow our frequent postings on Facebook and Instagram throughout the season.
Having learned that most of our parishioners are reluctant to come out on weekday evenings, especially in the colder months, we’re putting our Lenten program online. In “Take Five,” I will offer a series of video reflections called “Five Words in Five Weeks.” What are the five words? They’re the words the church uses when ashes are put on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, which are Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark (Ch. 1, vs. 15) – “Repent and believe in the Gospel (the Good News).” That may not sound very interesting at first glance, but I can’t wait to share with you the amazing and dynamic message that Jesus intended to convey, but which is often obscured by these five words. Their true meaning not only sets the tone for all of Lent on Ash Wednesday, but it lays down the most basic foundations for our spirituality as followers of Jesus, pointing out the way to a life-giving relationship of love with our God.
I’ll produce two 90-second videos each of the weeks of Lent (except Holy Week), with an introductory video next week following Ash Wednesday. To grasp the entire message, you’ll need to take in all the videos in order. They’ll be available through our social media as well as on our website.
I can’t end this article without reflecting for a moment on the tragedies we’ve witnessed in recent days. In January it was the killing of Tyre Nichols. More recently, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria took tens of thousands of lives and caused widespread destruction. The numbers are too big for me to imagine, as is the scope of loss and devastation. (BTW, you can still donate through the Jesuits working in both countries HERE.) Then yet another instance of mass gun violence, this time in our own backyard at MSU… the 67th mass shooting in the U.S. just this year. Such events are not only a cause for sadness and grieving, but they can also challenge our faith and our relationship with God. All the more reason then to enter into Lenten prayer to reflect on those five words from the gospel, to be refreshed in the goodness of God and be reconnected with our unimaginable hope of victorious Life in the Risen Christ.