My dear parishioners of Sacred Heart,
W e begin the great season of Lent provided by the Church to remind us of our faith, and to deepen it. Like Christmas and Easter the Church gives us time to prepare for all its seasons. Advent prepares us for Christmas, and Lent for Easter. Lent is a season of forty days of preparation for Easter, the great celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus and the great celebration of our resurrected life. So, any lenten discipline, any lenten practice of piety is to shape us to live that resurrected life in Christ.
In the liturgy of the Word on Ash Wednesday, Jesus in the gospel urges the disciples not to practice their piety so that they will be praised by others, but to practice piety in such a way that others will be helped and God’s name is glorified.
In a sense, we are to check our motives as we go about our lenten practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving. Do we do them for ourselves or for God?
My friends, the season of Lent calls us to Renunciation and Self-Denial. We are to renounce ourselves for the sake of God’s kingdom. This must not be simply a Lenten discipline, but it is living our baptismal life in Christ, crucifying the old and bringing the new to life, refocusing our habits, our priorities, our direction.
Briefly, the renunciation of the self during lent is much more the renunciation of some of our petty practices. It is more than giving up of certain things such as meat, candy, chocolate, cigarettes. It is renouncing a whole way of life, of attitudes, and perspectives. It is renouncing all that which prevents us from being children of God and servants to our neighbor. It is in that Lenten spirit, I would like to introduce to the parish A Lenten Mission Project that will go beyond the lenten season to the very heart of our parish life.
The Parish Mission Project will kick off every year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday with the distribution of individual Lenten offering boxes.
Imagine Sacred Heart as a parish of believers united for a season of spiritual enrichment, practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting, while showing genuine concerns and offering prayers for the issues of the Church, the community, and the least fortunate around the world. We will encourage children and adults alike to consider substituting some free time with prayer and meditation. We will also encourage them to place funds they would normally spend on lunch and frills into the offering box all throughout the season. The boxes shall be returned at the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. They will be distributed among the various parishioners’ supported project after Easter.
A registration of every project supported by individual parishioners or groups will also kick off during the Lenten Season with a detailed application process to evaluate cause worthiness, history, capacity, and transparency. Each third Sunday, there will be a table set out outside of church to encourage parishioners and visitors to learn more about and support the project closest to their hearts, among those selected.
I hope that Lent 2014 will be a special time of grace for all of us who love God or are searching God.
May God bless you this Lent and always.