Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Keeping a Holy Lent...

Keeping a Holy Lent…

Next week our journey toward the sacred celebrations of Easter begins with Ash Wednesday.  Lent is a journey – a pilgrimage – through the wilderness toward the glory of Easter.  Another way to think of it is as an extended retreat from ‘regular life’ to purify ourselves, shake ourselves awake, and reconnect with our need for a Savior so that we can approach Easter Sunday with awe and wonder, and genuine thanksgiving and gratitude.

We can think of it as joining the Israelites in their ‘wandering’ journey to the Promised Land, learning once again to follow God step by step, day by day, trusting His lead in this journey of life.  Or we can think of it as entering the Ark with Noah, letting the same old patterns of living and sin that have dulled life into an endless, numb routine die away until we ‘land safely’ in the new life of Easter.  Some think of Lent as joining Jesus in the dryness of the wilderness to encounter our own temptations face to face, claiming God’s Word as our strength.  However you think of it, its time for us to prepare for Lent.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pope Francis on the Church

Pope Francis on the Church…

Pope Francis has such a way of sharing the ageless vision of the Church in fresh and new ways.  We know that for ages we've understood the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  In October 2013, Pope Francis discussed what it means to say the Church is catholic at his weekly audience.  Here’s part of what he had to say:

“The Church is catholic because she is the space, the home in which the faith if proclaimed in us in its entirety, in which the salvation brought to us by Christ is offered to everyone.  The Church enables us to encounter the mercy of God which transforms us, for in her Jesus Christ is present who has given her the true confession of faith, the fullness of the sacramental life and the authenticity of the ordained ministry.  In the Church each one of us finds what is needed to believe, to live as Christians, to become holy and to journey to every place and through every age…


Each one of us can ask himself or herself today: how do I live in the Church?  When I go to Church, is it as though I were at a stadium, at a football match? Is it as though I were at a cinema?  No, it is something else.

I wonder, friends – are we living together in the community of the Church according to this beautiful vision?  Are we truly encountering the mercy of God in our dealings with one another?  Are we seeking out God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? 

Are we seeking the fullness of the Sacramental life Christ gives us in the Church – or are we gathering as a club, a socially acceptable way to spend our Sunday mornings so we’ll feel good about ourselves the rest of the week?  Are we connecting – truly being present to – the journey of Christian discipleship in every place and through every age when we gather together?  If not – what’s holding us back?  Could we all humble ourselves enough to ask: How can I better engage this beauty in our parish community?  How can I better help others engage this beauty?

Pope Francis asks a great question: do we come to Church to ‘watch’, ‘comment’, ‘observe’, or ‘critique’ – the way we attend a sporting event or watch a movie?  Do we come to be entertained or to be served ?  The Church is something else…