Please join us and walk with Jesus throughout Holy Week, particularly during the Sacred Triduum (the three days between the Last Supper and Jesus’ Resurrection). Then join us as we celebrate our Easter joy. Our schedule as follows:

  • Maundy Thursday, March 29th – Reception of Oils, Holy Mass, Procession to the Altar of Repose, Stripping of the Altars at 7pm.
  • Good Friday, March 30th – Cross walk at 11:30am, Bitter Lamentations at 3pm, Liturgy of the Presanctified and Opening of the tomb at 7pm.
  • Holy Saturday, March 31st – Liturgy of New Fire. Renew Your Baptismal Vow. Blessing of Easter Baskets, 4pm.
  • Solemnity of the Resurrection/Easter, April 1 – Procession and Solemn High Holy Mass at 8am and Holy Mass at 10am. Easter repast after each Holy Mass.

Please remember the Church’s requirements for Lent Holy week requires fasting and abstaining from meats from Wednesday, March 28th through Saturday, March 31st.

Why so
long?

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.

Father, why is he gospel so long?

Jesus was sent to earth as a man. As the Gospel of St. John tells us, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word dwelt among us. The Word lives with us. Jesus, who is God’s Word came to preach the Gospel, the Good News.

God had news for us. It is Good News and was delivered by Jesus as the prophets foretold: Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1); or the “good news of God” (see Mark 1:14-15). Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom. The whole point of Jesus’ saving mission is in His words of life.

Today we read of the accomplishment, the completion of the Father’s work. The Good News of Jesus is that the barrier is broken. The curtain is torn. The graves have been opened. Curse and separation have ended. Reconciliation is here. What is in heaven is for us on earth. We have full access to the kingdom of God. Thanks be to God we have these words in all their fullness.

Today, we pause to hear the Good News in full. No shortcuts. Nothing – no concerns or worries about our time – getting in the way of God’s time. Like John, the faithful disciple, and the women, we walk through all the words, from Bethany to the cross and to the tomb.

We don’t look for a shortcut – like Judas did, trying to bring on the kingdom through treachery and betrayal. We stand unafraid before God’s word and accept it and Him in full. We do not walk away, denying Him like Peter did.

In my years of ministry and proclaiming the word, I have immersed myself in the Gospel. This is the good news, given for us who are weary. I, and I know you; have said, even in our weariness, this is the word that rouses us.

Again, Father, why is the gospel so long?

It is so we may wallow in it, swim in it, live in it. We are here to live in the moment. From the spectacle of Palm Sunday to the mystery of the Eucharist, to the foot of the cross, to the tomb; every nuance, every emotion, every tear is ours to own.

We are people of the word who center our lives on Jesus, the Word. There can be no compromise in that. We don’t want the watered down version. So today we stood, stood with Jesus, loyal to His word. Roused, energized, ready, we live faithful to His command: to proclaim the kingdom of God, and they went out and traveled from place to place, proclaiming the good news.

This week’s memory verse: Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.Psalm 111:2

Pray the week: Lord, You give us great knowledge so to draw closer to You. Grant that we may not be so proud in our knowledge as to loose faith in You.

Faith discovered.
Faith lived.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.

This past week we heard news of the death of Stephen William Hawking who was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. He offered the world wonderful scientific insights, theories, and suggestions. We could also connect with his long standing health issues and his courage in moving forward, in spite of challenges. He believed and lived like a person of faith, yet he was not a person of faith. He was an avowed atheist and did not believe in God, heaven, or eternal life. This sermon is not a judgment on his life. Rather, it is an exploration of how we come to and live faith. Can we do at least as much for God as he did for science?

Faith and science are processes of discovery, however their conclusions vary. The ‘scientific method’ is one lengthy testing to find results that are never really final. Science never draws absolute and bulletproof conclusions because a scientist knows that information or thinking might require they back up, re-test, refine, expand, or reject previous thinking. Faith, in contrast, is about making a clear and absolute statement: I believe.

In today’s gospel, Jesus calls the world to faith and to live out faith. For those who seek leadership He sets forth His example that also calls us to leadership. For those who connect with story, he provides analogy and asks us to preach His words. For the scientist, He provides evidence and calls us to testimony. Jesus calls us to get to faith, to accept it, and once there, to live faithfully.

Jesus is drawing near to His death. Hear His words: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” Jesus was totally tuned in to the will of His Father. He makes an absolute statement of trust, placing His faith in the Father’s will alone, no matter where it might lead, even to his death. Jesus calls us to the same faith through His example. He calls us to act in absolute faith. Not ‘oh, but…’ Instead, ‘yes, Lord.’ Yes and, I will live it Lord!

Jesus gives us the grain of wheat and its lesson. We have to let go of the notions we cling to; we have to let our grains of wheat die so that new revelations come to us. Letting go of what we cling to is an act of faith-filled trust. Letting go is an act of living our faith.

God does not leave us to guess. We have Jesus, first hand testimony, and evidence for our sake, yet some will not hear, accept or live faith. Thanks be, we have come to faith and live it.

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Escape is really popular. Whether we think of our everyday trials and challenges (I wish i could leave this all behind), or amazing escapes after a tragedy has struck (I can’t believe they found them under all that rubble), or the things we do just to get away (TV, music, gaming, virtual reality) we connect with the idea of escape. You might expect a church newsletter to go on about staying connected to reality – a lecture about being responsible and staying connected and involved. Even though it is Lent, we won’t go there. Everyone needs a little escape time, some respite from the everyday. What faith and Church is more about is the fact that our “reality,” the struggles, pains, failings, sins, disappointments, weaknesses we all know too well will not win or overcome us. We have escaped. More than two thousand years ago, God’s plan of redemption altered our reality forever. The reality and power of sin and death was broken through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ that first Easter. Death was defeated. True life, spiritual life, God’s life triumphed. We have escaped sin and death in Him. Over the next weeks, we will complete our Lenten journey, enter into Passiontide, and journey together through the events of Holy Week. We will connect with the brutal reality that changed our reality and provided us escape. Escape from sin and death in Jesus is true life. We are alive to Jesus’s life, sacrifice, and power. The new escaped life Jesus provides us is reason to celebrate! It is reason to respond to God’s open arms and His invitation to draw near to Him. Join us in these weeks and days as we experience the life-giving truth of God’s power. Find freedom, real escape, and transformation. Become part of God’s new life and creation.

Join us for the final weeks of the Lenten season, our Lenten retreat, Passiontide, Holy Week, and Easter – April 1st. A huge thank you to all who supported Souper Bowl Sunday and our Valentine’s Raffle. Need ideas for celebrating lent as a family, check out our suggestions. We look forward to having you in our family!

You may view and download a copy of our March 2018 Newsletter right here.

Valuing depth and
commitment.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.

What do we value? Today’s scriptures confront us with that question and ask us to consider the value of our salvation in light of everything else.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, places three things of value on the table: wisdom (think learning, knowledge, and education), signs (think miracles, wonders that cannot be explained), and Christ crucified (our salvation). He is asking us to figure out what is most important, not in philosophical or conceptual terms – but in reality. What would we give our lives and our all for? And, if we were to give our lives for that thing, which of them would carry us beyond the here and now and into an eternity of bliss? These questions assist in defining our commitment as Christians and the depth of our faith by drawing value comparisons.

Knowledge or wisdom will surely not give us eternal life. They are the most ephemeral of things. When we die, all our knowledge and wisdom is gone. We could have a wall full of degrees, but none would be valuable enough to act as a passport into heaven.

Signs and wonders might get us a little closer. At least we would be acknowledging a power beyond ourselves. But, that alone will not get us to heaven. In fact, Jesus saw right through people who would only follow Him while He entertained them with signs and wonders. He also knew that His people had a history of experiencing all of His Father’s signs and wonders, and still wandered away in faithlessness. No, signs and wonders do not hold enough value.

If we set those two things aside as not valuable enough, we are left Jesus crucified. We know that faith in Him is entry into heaven. He is the only assurance we have. So, He should be at the top of our value list. In fact, all our values should flow from His being at the top of our list.

Jesus demonstrates this during His visit to Jerusalem. His Father was His sole value. Love for His Father, and His Father’s will, consumed Him. It was never about the building, the temple, it was about His value choice.

Jesus saw that the people of Israel had their values all wrong. They were focused on paying for form over substance. He is asking them to re-define their commitment and the depth of their faith in his Father. Is it about a building, a place, or setting values correctly? He asks us the same question each day. Lent is about our value choices, and what’s on our list.

Encountering
Him.

He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

The absolute purity, perfection, wisdom, and justice of God make encounters with Him a fearful event. None of us is really worthy of such an opportunity. Additionally, what would we say? How could or would we explain ourselves. His all-knowing presence would see into the deepest parts of our hearts and minds. All would be revealed. We would be crushed in our own sins.

Very few in Old Testament times sought out an encounter with God. Those who knew Him either lived in fear and trembling or ignored Him and went their own way. Yet, God did not let Himself remain distant and unknown.

In Old Testament times, God set forth to walk with men and women. He encountered them, called to them, and led them. Among those who encountered God were: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (as we hear in today’s first reading and at other times in his life), Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Solomon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Daniel, and many of the prophets.

With Jesus coming, all who saw and met Him met God in the flesh. The people who recognized Him as Messiah prior to His resurrection included: Mary, John the Baptist (in the womb and when they met at Jesus at the Jordan), Simeon and Anna, Peter, the Samaritan woman at the well, Martha and Mary, the Thief on the Cross, the Centurion at the cross. After the resurrection, the remaining Apostles and 500 disciples and the two traveling to Emmaus recognized who He was.

We, like those who met Jesus after His Ascension (Stephen, Paul, and Ananias) are also able to encounter God. He remains close and accessible to us

St. Paul offers us the same reassurance he had. He does not say that that we are somehow perfect or worthy of encountering God on our own, but that God has extended Himself to us. He has chosen us and has reconciled us so that we may encounter Him in love and fellowship. By His effort – the graces won by his Son, Jesus – we are able to freely draw close to Him. Our sins no longer crush us. In fact, they have been washed away.

Today we see the three accompany Jesus up the mountain. There, they are treated to the Divine vision; the eternal breaking into the world. Jesus is completely revealed to them. Again, God reaches out to us. The encounter with God did not kill the three. Instead, they saw all God is and all He offers.
This Lent is the chance. It is the time to draw close encountering God, to remain with Him and to enter into His Divine life in new freedom without fear.

This week’s memory verse: My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.Proverbs 23:26

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to surrender to Your will. Draw me into the desert with You and conform me to Your will.

I give
up.

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days

We know that the human body needs food and water to survive. A human can go for more than three weeks without food, but water is a different story. At least 60% of the adult body is made of water. The maximum time an individual can go without water is about one week in ideal conditions, less in more difficult conditions, like the broiling heat of a desert.

Jesus in His humanity is just like us (except for sin). It is unlikely that He gave up all food and water during His fast. What He did give up in the desert experience was any hint of self will. There, He fully connected with the Father and conformed Himself to the Father’s will. He accepted the hard road ahead as His mission. This experience, separated from human company, barely existing, the ultimate in aloneness, prepared Him and strengthened Him such that no temptation, no allure could pull Him off the Kingdom mission.

Believers are often called into a profound and mystical desert journey. It is a certain time of aloneness and apartness where we face the big roadblocks that are in the way of our journey to heaven. In that time, we break down the roadblocks, grind down the speed bumps, burn away self-interest, and commit to the road toward the kingdom. In the desert, we find God’s mission for us and learn to differentiate between the things that keep us on mission or draw us away.

This week we faced a horrible tragedy in Florida. Lives taken, young, beautiful lives that will never have the opportunity to experience the desert journey of growth. Rather, they were pulled away from all of life’s experiences and opportunities.

Jenny Rapson, writing at For Every Mom, notes that seventeen souls lost their lives on the first day of Lent. She asks us to seriously consider what we are giving up for Lent as individuals and as a nation. Reflecting on Jesus’ desert journey. she says: “Let’s give up, as a country, as a nation, let’s give up whatever it is” that blocks us from doing what is right; “whatever it is that allows people armed with assault rifles and shotguns to keep coming into schools time and time and time and time and time again to murder our children and their teachers. Let’s give that up. Let’s identify that thing and then let’s lay it down and sacrifice it so no more children have to die.”

Her poignant words call us to rise to the challenges we face as individuals, communities, and as a nation. They remind us that the desert experience must be part of our everyday lives. We must take the desert road to determine what we must give up. the actions, thoughts, and words that do not live up to the Father’s will and His Son’s example of resisting temptation, bringing healing, offering peace, and living anew.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

This year we enter into the Great and Holy Lent on Valentine’s Day. The last time this happened was in 1945. This presents us with a whole bunch of dilemmas. Can I celebrate Valentine’s Day? Which celebration is the greater obligation? Do I have to fast and abstain from meat? The underlying question is: Does God’s love motivate us? Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, recounts the great promises God has given us in Jesus. Among the great promises: That God will walk among us and live with us (He is not in a long distance relationship). That we are God’s people; He receives us in His fatherly love. We are His sons and daughters; co-heirs with Jesus to the resurrection and eternal life in heaven. That we have communion with Him, His protection and blessings that are absolute and unconditional. Does God’s love motivate us? Yes, if we work to improve externally and internally; to live in purity of heart and to train to avoid all sin – the killer of love. Lent is the time to discipline ourselves and cleanse ourselves so that we live up to the love we have received from God. That is what Lent is about – living up to the love and promises we own. Lent is an opportunity to live up to love – to cleanse ourselves, achieve deep-seated changes in our lives, and align ourselves with God’s love. It is a happy coincidence that Valentine’s Day marks the start of Lent because Lent is about the change real and honest love brings, the good love motivates, and the happiness and holiness love attains.

Join us in the run up to and for the start of the Lenten season. So much going on. Souper Bowl Sunday, Annual Meeting, Ash Wednesday, our Valentine’s Raffle, our Seniorate Lenten retreat. Join us – become part of a family of faith and shine forth – bringing more and more to real freedom in Jesus. We so look forward to meeting you, to working together, to being love to our world.

You may view and download a copy of our February 2018 Newsletter right here.