From the Desk of Deacon Richard… Second Sunday in Lent

03717

Dear Parish Family:

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

This is the direction that God gives to Abraham. There are those who have asked how an all-good and all-loving God could ever ask such a thing as the killing of one’s own child as a sacrifice. There are even those who would suggest that this passage is proof that God is not all good or all loving.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Even if God had expected that this sacrifice would ultimately be made — even if God had allowed Abraham to carry out the sacrifice — God has it within His power to immediately take Isaac into heaven or, for that matter, to raise him from the dead as Christ raised His friend, Lazarus. But God never expected that.

God knows perfectly, and so He is perfectly aware that this sacrifice is too terrible for Abraham to make. He lifts this burden from Abraham and in His perfect love and mercy does not ask the impossible from His loyal servant. And yet, God also knows something else… He knows that ultimately, this is the sacrifice that must be made and it must be made perfectly.

Ultimately, God does not ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; instead, God offers His own Son — His only Son — our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ becomes the sacrifice too terrible for Abraham to make; God does not withhold His only Son.

So the question really isn’t how could an all-good and all-loving God ask for such a sacrifice? The question is, how could He not?

Justice demands that the debt of sin be paid, but the price is too high for mere humans to endure. And God in His perfect mercy desires nothing more than we be saved from ourselves… saved from our sins. And so our all-good and all-loving God pays the debt for us that is too high for us to pay ourselves; Christ, the only Son of God, becomes an offering for us, crucified on the cross and lifted up, just as God asked Abraham to do.

The burden that is too great for us is not too great for our God. This passage from Genesis should not cause anyone to question God’s mercy; quite the opposite, it should be understood for what it is: a prefigurement of God’s perfect mercy satisfying the demands of God’s perfect justice.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Grunewald_Crucifixion

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr – February 23rd

Today is the feast day of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr.

divine-0223-polycarp

“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man”

THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP
Translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

Polycarp prologue:1
Polycarp and the presbyters that are with him unto the Church of God
which sojourneth at Philippi; mercy unto you and peace from God
Almighty and Jesus Christ our Savior be multiplied.

Polycarp 1:1
I rejoiced with you greatly in our Lord Jesus Christ, for that ye
received the followers of the true Love and escorted them on their
way, as befitted you–those men encircled in saintly bonds which are
the diadems of them that be truly chosen of God and our Lord;

Polycarp 1:2
and that the steadfast root of your faith which was famed from
primitive times abideth until now and beareth fruit unto our Lord
Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God
raised, having loosed the pangs of Hades; on whom,

Polycarp 1:3
though ye saw Him not, ye believe with joy unutterable and full of
glory
; unto which joy many desire to enter in; forasmuch as ye know
that it is by grace ye are saved, not of works, but by the will of
God through Jesus Christ.

Polycarp 2:1
Wherefore gird up your loins and serve God in fear and truth,
forsaking the vain and empty talking and the error of the many, for
that ye have believed on Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from
the dead and gave unto him glory
and a throne on His right hand;
unto whom all things were made subject that are in heaven and that
are on the earth; to whom every creature that hath breath doeth
service; who cometh as judge of quick and dead; whose blood God
will require of them that are disobedient unto Him.

Polycarp 2:2
Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also; if we
do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He
loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of
money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or
railing for railing
or blow for blow or cursing for cursing;

Polycarp 2:3
but remembering the words which the Lord spake, as He taught; Judge
not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to
you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye
mete, it shall be measured to you again;
and again Blessed are
the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for
theirs is the kingdom of God
.

Polycarp 3:1
These things, brethren, I write unto you concerning righteousness,
not because I laid this charge upon myself, but because ye invited
me.

Polycarp 3:2
For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the
wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you
taught face to face with the men of that day the word which
concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent,
wrote a letter unto you, into the which if ye look diligently, ye
shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you,

Polycarp 3:3
which is the mother of us all, while hope followeth after and love
goeth before–love toward God and Christ and toward our neighbor. For
if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment
of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.

Polycarp 4:1
But the love of money is the beginning of all troubles. Knowing
therefore that we brought nothing into the world neither can we
carry anything out
, let us arm ourselves with the armor of
righteousness, and let us teach ourselves first to walk in the
commandment of the Lord;

Polycarp 4:2
and then our wives also, to walk in the faith that hath been given
unto them and in love and purity, cherishing their own husbands in
all truth and loving all men equally in all chastity, and to train
their children in the training of the fear of God.

Polycarp 4:3
Our widows must be sober-minded as touching the faith of the Lord,
making intercession without ceasing for all men, abstaining from all
calumny, evil speaking, false witness, love of money, and every evil
thing, knowing that they are God’s altar, and that all sacrifices are
carefully inspected, and nothing escapeth Him either of their
thoughts or intents or any of the secret things of the heart.

Polycarp 5:1
Knowing then that God is not mocked, we ought to walk worthily of
His commandment and His glory.

Polycarp 5:2
In like manner deacons should be blameless in the presence of His
righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ and not of men; not
calumniators, not double-tongued, not lovers of money, temperate in
all things, compassionate, diligent, walking according to the truth
of the Lord who became a minister (deacon) of all. For if we be
well pleasing unto Him in this present world, we shall receive the
future world also, according as He promised us to raise us from the
dead, and that if we conduct ourselves worthily of Him we shall
also reign with Him,
if indeed we have faith.

Polycarp 5:3
In like manner also the younger men must be blameless in all things,
caring for purity before everything and curbing themselves from every
evil. For it is a good thing to refrain from lusts in the world, for
every lust warreth against the Spirit, and neither whoremongers
nor effeminate persons nor defilers of themselves with men shall
inherit the kingdom of God
, neither they that do untoward things.
Wherefore it is right to abstain from all these things, submitting
yourselves to the presbyters and deacons as to God and Christ. The
virgins must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

Polycarp 6:1
And the presbyters also must be compassionate, merciful towards all
men, turning back the sheep that are gone astray, visiting all the
infirm, not neglecting a widow or an orphan or a poor man: but
providing always for that which is honorable in the sight of God
and of men
, abstaining from all anger, respect of persons,
unrighteous judgment, being far from all love of money, not quick to
believe anything against any man, not hasty in judgment, knowing that
we all are debtors of sin.

Polycarp 6:2
If then we entreat the Lord that He would forgive us, we also ought
to forgive: for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we
must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and each man must
give an account of himself
.

Polycarp 6:3
Let us therefore so serve Him with fear and all reverence, as He
himself gave commandment and the Apostles who preached the Gospel to
us and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of our Lord;
being zealous as touching that which is good, abstaining from
offenses and from the false brethren and from them that bear the name
of the Lord in hypocrisy, who lead foolish men astray.

Polycarp 7:1
For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh, is antichrist
: and whosoever shall not confess the
testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert
the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is
neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of
Satan.

Polycarp 7:2
Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false
teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from
the beginning, being sober unto prayer and constant in fastings,
entreating the all-seeing God with supplications that He bring us
not into temptation
, according as the Lord said, The Spirit is
indeed willing, but the flesh is weak
.

Polycarp 8:1
Let us therefore without ceasing hold fast by our hope and by the
earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ who took up our
sins in His own body upon the tree, who did no sin, neither was
guile found in His mouth
, but for our sakes He endured all things,
that we might live in Him.

Polycarp 8:2
Let us therefore become imitators of His endurance; and if we should
suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He gave this
example to us in His own person, and we believed this.

Polycarp 9:1
I exhort you all therefore to be obedient unto the word of
righteousness and to practice all endurance, which also ye saw with
your own eyes in the blessed Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus, yea and
in others also who came from among yourselves, as well as in Paul
himself and the rest of the Apostles;

Polycarp 9:2
being persuaded that all these ran not in vain but in faith and
righteousness, and that they are in their due place in the presence
of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not the
present world
, but Him that died for our sakes and was raised by
God for us.

Polycarp 10:1
Stand fast therefore in these things and follow the example of the
Lord, being firm in the faith and immovable, in love of the
brotherhood kindly affectioned one to another
, partners with the
truth, forestalling one another in the gentleness of the Lord,
despising no man.

Polycarp 10:2
When ye are able to do good, defer it not, for Pitifulness
delivereth from death. Be ye all subject one to another, having
your conversation
unblamable among the gentiles, that your good
works
both ye may receive praise and the Lord may not be
blasphemed in you.

Polycarp 10:3
But woe to him through whom the name of the Lord be blasphemed.
Therefore teach all men soberness, in which ye yourselves also walk.

Polycarp 11:1
I was exceedingly grieved for Valens, who aforetime was a presbyter
among you, because he is so ignorant of the office which was given
unto him. I warn you therefore that ye refrain from covetousness, and
that ye be pure and truthful. Refrain from all evil.

Polycarp 11:2
But he who cannot govern himself in these things, how doth he enjoin
this upon another? If a man refrain not from covetousness, he shall
be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the Gentiles
who know not the judgment of the Lord, Nay, know we not, that the
saints shall judge the world
, as Paul teacheth?

Polycarp 11:3
But I have not found any such thing in you, neither have heard
thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his
letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those
churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as
yet.

Polycarp 11:4
Therefore I am exceedingly grieved for him and for his wife, unto
whom may the Lord grant true repentance. Be ye therefore yourselves
also sober herein, and hold not such as enemies but restore them
as frail and erring members, that ye may save the whole body of you.
For so doing, ye do edify one another.

Polycarp 12:1
For I am persuaded that ye are well trained in the sacred writings,
and nothing is hidden from you. But to myself this is not granted.
Only, as it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and sin not,
and Let not the sun set on your wrath. Blessed is he that
remembereth this; and I trust that this is in you.

Polycarp 12:2
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal
High-priest Himself the [Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in
faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath
and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in
purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints,
and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall
believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father that
raised him from the dead.

Polycarp 12:3
Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and
princes and for them that persecute and hate you and for the
enemies of the cross
, that your fruit may be manifest among all
men
, that ye may be perfect in Him.

Polycarp 13:1
Ye wrote to me, both ye yourselves and Ignatius, asking that if any
one should go to Syria he might carry thither the letters from you.
And this I will do, if I get a fit opportunity, either I myself, or
he whom I shall send to be ambassador on your behalf also.

Polycarp 13:2
The letters of Ignatius which were sent to us by him, and others as
many as we had by us, we send unto you, according as ye gave charge;
the which are subjoined to this letter; from which ye will be able to
gain great advantage. For they comprise faith and endurance and every
kind of edification, which pertaineth unto our Lord. Moreover
concerning Ignatius himself and those that were with him, if ye have
any sure tidings, certify us.

Polycarp 14:1
I write these things to you by Crescens, whom I commended to you
recently and now commend unto you: for he hath walked blamelessly
with us; and I believe also with you in like manner. But ye shall
have his sister commended, when she shall come to you. Fare ye well
in the Lord Jesus Christ in grace, ye and all yours. Amen.

Homily for the First Sunday in Lent

SNN1604P--620_1728824a

“Through prayer, charity and humility before God, people receive a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart that is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference,” Pope Francis said this year in his Lenten message. The Holy Father said, “How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”

We have entered the season of Lent. This is a season of prayer, of fasting, and of charity. This is a season of preparation as we await Easter and the glorious triumph of Our Lord. This is a season to anticipate the Kingdom of God, which is at once both present and yet to come.

This is also a season in which we may encounter temptation. Today’s Gospel tells that even Jesus was tempted by Satan during Christ’s forty days in the desert. How will we react when we are tempted by Satan? The Lenten disciplines both prepare us to overcome temptation and strengthen us in our fight against the Tempter.

In a certain way, Lent is our forty days in the desert. Ours is a spiritual sojourn, but the desert in which we travel is not a barren or lifeless waste. It is a desert teaming with life and with beauty for those who know where and how to look for it. It is a desert of both challenge and abundance, but it is not a place for the weak or the unprepared.

In a very real way, Lent is what you make of it. If you’ve not really prepared for Lent and you’re not really looking to make too many changes in your spiritual life, and in fact you’re not even much interested in sticking with the whole fish-on-Friday thing, well, you’re not going to get much out of Lent. You will only see the emptiness of the desert.

On the other hand, if you have prepared… if you’ve thought about how you want to enhance your life of prayer this Lent… if you’re prepared to embrace the Lenten spirit of fasting… if you’re ready and eager to expand your capacity for love of God and neighbor… then you are prepared for a very fruitful Lent. You are in the right place to be better off at the end of Lent than you are now, and that is exactly where you should be. You will see the fruitfulness of the desert.

beautiful_desert_rock_formation

Now, if you’re in that first group – the group that just doesn’t much care or just doesn’t want to be bothered – the truth is, I really can’t help you. I can pray for you, and I do… but until you decide you want to have a spiritual life, there is really nothing anyone can do for you that will help you improve it.

And if you’re in that second group – the group that is prepared for Lent and has already set off on their Lenten journey toward a closer relationship with Christ – well, the truth is I really can’t help you, either. But that’s okay; you don’t need it. You’ve got it figured out and will do just fine.

However, if you’re afraid you’re in the first group but you want to be in the second group, that I can help you with. If you genuinely want to have a deeply spiritual and fruitful Lent but don’t quite know where to start, then the best place to start is with prayer.

Do you pray every day? You should. Whether it’s reciting the Rosary daily, or praying the Divine Office, or Lectio Divina, or daily contemplation, or reciting the Our Father before bed, or any of the very many other prayers that can be said you should be praying daily. If you don’t pray daily, then today is the day to start.

candles

Some folks have tried to start with it all. Twenty decades of the Rosary, Lauds, Vespers, thirty minutes of Lectio, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and so on and so on. That generally doesn’t work. It lasts maybe three days, and then it’s back to not praying at all. Prayer is like exercise. You have to run around the block before you can run a marathon. You have to work up to it.

If you’re not praying at all, start out by saying grace before meals. Once that becomes comfortable, add an Our Father at bedtime. Once that becomes comfortable, add the Rosary. And so on. Wherever you are in your prayer life, add a little more. Take small steps. Maybe that means just a Hail Mary first thing in the morning. Maybe that means taking an hour – or another hour – of adoration in the chapel. As long as your prayer life is moving forward, you’re going in the right direction.

And, please — don’t think that I’m telling you it is never good enough. That no matter how much you pray, you ought to pray a little more. That’s not what I’m telling you at all, because it’s not a question of good enough. If you prayed nothing else other than simply saying, “Thank You” to God every day… that would be good enough. The question isn’t what is good enough… the question is what is satisfying. When you reach the point of praying enough — not good enough, but simply enough time in prayer — you will know that you have. Then your attention will shift from quantity to quality. Could I pray better? Could my conversations with God be deeper?

lent-2

What have you decided to give up for Lent? One of the reasons we have the tradition of giving up something for Lent is to embrace the Lenten spirit of fasting. Not eating cookies or not drinking beer or not using Facebook during Lent might seem like a very small thing – and in many ways it is – but the point isn’t the size of the thing, it’s the spirit in which it is undertaken. By giving up something that you enjoy that, while not harmful, also does not advance the spiritual life, you embrace the spirit of fasting. This is a spirit that certainly need not be confined to Lent, but the Lenten season is an excellent place for it to start.

Fasting isn’t about being hungry; it’s about building discipline. And discipline is something that is very much needed in the spiritual life. Though this might not be true for some of our younger parishioners, for most of us there is no one to remind us to pray. No one to remind us to thank God for our many blessings. There is no one to make sure we are advancing our spiritual life except us. Doing that takes discipline.

It’s also about making room. You take something out of your life that does not advance the spiritual life, and you make room for something that does advance the spiritual life. Trading an hour of television for an hour of adoration will not only not hurt you in any way, it will help you in every way. You will become a better person if the experience is embraced with a true Lenten spirit. It is unavoidable. How can it not happen? Adoration is the act of going before the Lord and asking to spend time with your friend. And your friend, Jesus Christ, omnipotent ruler of the universe, is there waiting for you with open arms, ready to embrace you and welcome you into His friendship.

This Lent, let us all focus on our prayer life, on charity, and on humility before God… for these are key to receiving a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart that is not closed or indifferent. These are the pillars on which an island of mercy can be built in a sea of indifference.

slide18

###
20150222

Prayers of the Faithful – February 22, 2015

1st_Sun_of_Lent_Pic

  1. For the Holy Father and all bishops, that throughout this Lenten season they may guide Christ’s Church with holy wisdom, let us pray to the Lord.
  2. For our community and nation, that a Lenten spirit of peace and charity may guide our political leaders to a genuine concern for the needs of the poor and marginalized, let us pray to the Lord.
  3. For an increase in vocations during the Year of Consecrated Life, that God will bless our families, bless our children, and choose from our homes those needed for His work, let us pray to the Lord.
  4. For our parish family, that during this season of Lent all may come to a closer relationship with God through acts of prayer, fasting, and charity, let us pray to the Lord.
  5. For all of those who perpetrate acts of war and violence, that the peace of Christ may fill their hearts and lead them to true repentance and the salvation of their souls, let us pray to the Lord.
  6. And for a respect for all human persons from conception until a natural death, and for an increased awareness of the dignity of the human person, created in the likeness and image of God, let us pray to the Lord.

From the Desk of Deacon Richard… on the First Sunday of Lent

Resurrection

Dear Parish Family:

“Put to death in the flesh, [Christ] was brought to life in the Spirit,” writes Peter in today’s second reading. We, who have a two-thousand year patrimony of rich Catholic teaching should not allow ourselves to pass this statement too quickly. Today in the Western world, we hear that statement and we know that our long tradition affirms it. There may be those poor souls today who cannot believe it, but we all know that the Church’s teaching is and always has been that Christ died on the cross, was laid in the tomb, and was truly dead. Then He rose from the dead. For so many of us, we accept that as true, just as out fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, and their parents before them accepted it. It simply is the way it is.

But this universal acceptance was not always the case. Imagine living in a time before everyone knew that Christ was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again. If a former fisherman currently pursuing a career as a religious fanatic told you his boss had been executed by the authorities, joined the choir invisible, and then got better, you would most likely — let’s be perfectly honest — think that guy was a loon. I know I would.

But few think that of Peter today. Some who read this were probably surprised when I called Peter a religious fanatic… but I honestly do not know what else to call a man who abandons the life he has lived to follow a religious path that ultimately leads to his own execution. Being a religious fanatic isn’t always a bad thing; sometimes it means you are driven by the Spirit.

Holy Spirit

And, yes… that would be the same Spirit in which Peter tells us Christ was brought to life. It would be the same Spirit that has transformed the world over the past two millennia so that in the Christian world, when we hear that Christ died and rose again, that isn’t a surprise to us. It simply is the way it is.

It would be the same Spirit that goes on transforming the world today. During this season of Lent, let us all pray for the Spirit to be active in our lives and to transform us to better hear and know the truth to which our faith leads us… the truth that comes to us through the teaching of Peter and the Apostles and that is safeguarded by Holy Mother Church until Christ comes again.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Prayers of the Faithful – February 15, 2015

Worshiper Lighting Votive Candle on Altar

  1. For the Holy Father and all bishops, that through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes they may guide Christ’s Church with holy wisdom, let us pray to the Lord.
  2. For our country, that our lives and our laws may always promote what is best for children and for families, let us pray to the Lord.
  3. For the sojourner and stranger among us, that they may be met with hands and hearts open in friendship, let us pray to the Lord.
  4. For an increase in vocations during the Year of Consecrated Life, that God will bless our families, bless our children, and choose from our homes those needed for His work, let us pray to the Lord.
  5. For all those who put themselves in harm’s way to keep others safe, that God will watch over them and keep them safe from harm, let us pray to the Lord.
  6. And for a respect for all human persons from conception until a natural death, and for an increased awareness of the dignity of the human person, created in the likeness and image of God, let us pray to the Lord.

Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Jan_Brueghel_de_Oude_en_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Het_aards_paradijs_met_de_zondeval_van_Adam_en_Eva

Compare John’s account of the wedding at Cana to the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. Note that Eve isn’t named Eve until after the Fall. Prior to that, Scripture calls her simply, “Woman.”

At the wedding at Cana, Christ calls Mary Woman. He isn’t being a disrespectful son calling His dear mother merely woman; He is giving us a theological lesson and connecting her to Eve. Why? Because the name Eve in Hebrew is hawwa, which means “Mother of all the Living.” At His crucifixion, Christ gave His Blessed Mother to John, and to all of Christ’s Church. Mary becomes the mother of all of the living, and we are most truly alive when we are alive in Christ. Mary is our Mother if we are among those truly alive — among the sons and daughters of Holy Church.

8f346b165378459b517d6df9eabd2c05Today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on its normal day of February 11th. We also celebrated it as a parish last Sunday, which we were able to do because it is our patronal feast day and because we had special permission from the Bishop. That means that this year, it is the feast so nice we got to celebrate twice. That is especially wonderful because it is a Marian feast, and as in all things Marian we are led closer to Our Lord and God through His Blessed Virgin Mother… who is also our Mother and who can be our guide as we move ever closer to her Son.

Never hesitate to run to Mary and to implore her intercessions. She will not hesitate to come to our aid as long as we live in Christ, for if we are alive in Christ then Mary the Mother of All the Living is our mother, too.

wedding-cana

From the Desk of Deacon Richard. . .

40daysLent

Dear Parish Family:

Very soon, Ash Wednesday will be here and we will begin out observation of Lent. Please remember that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence. No meat should be eaten on either day, and only one full meal should be eaten. Two smaller meals are allowable, but those should not equal a second full meal. The past three Ash Wednesdays, I’ve eaten a granola bar for breakfast, a Subway vegetarian sandwich for lunch, and a small bowl of miso ramen in the evening after Ash Wednesday services. (The norms on fasting are obligatory on anyone between the ages of 18 and 59 as long as health permits, and the norms on abstinence from meat are binding from the age of 14 onward. It is meritorious to observe fasting and abstinence outside of these ages provided health permits.)

Lent is a season for prayer, fasting, repentance, almsgiving, and anticipation of the passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord. There is a long tradition of giving something up for Lent, and this is a tradition I would not hesitate to recommend to everyone. I plan on giving up sweets this Lent.

Some suggest instead of giving something up, a person should take something new on, such as extra prayer, an extra hour of adoration, or volunteering. This, too, is certainly meritorious, but I would suggest instead of considering it a matter of picking either/or one should choose both. Give something up that is not essential to advancing the spiritual life like alcohol, reality television, or sweets and take on something that does advance the spiritual life, like a daily rosary or attending daily Mass.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Our Lady of Lourdes

Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes

One of the most famous Marian apparitions is was witnessed by Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 in Lourdes, France. This 14-year-old and chronically ill girl saw the Blessed Virgin Mary standing in a small grotto.

Ballinasloe St. Michael's Church, South Aisle, window depicting Our Lady of Lourdes (left) by William Earley.

Ballinasloe St. Michael’s Church, South Aisle, window depicting Our Lady of Lourdes (left) by William Earley.

 

Ballinasloe St. Michael's Church, South Aisle, window (detail) depicting young Bernadette at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This window is by William Earley.

Ballinasloe St. Michael’s Church, South Aisle, window (detail) depicting young Bernadette at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This window is by William Earley.

Initially, few believed her account but her steadfast telling of the apparition won some over. Bernadette would see Our Lady of Lourdes eighteen times. Huge crowds gathered for some of the later apparitions as the story of Bernadette spread.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Brazil

Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Brazil

 

Bernadette was instructed by the beautiful lady to drink from a newly-discovered spring in the grotto; later, many miraculous healings occurred and were attributed to the water at Lourdes.

Our Lady of Lourdes, 2011, painting by Stephen B Whatley

Our Lady of Lourdes, 2011, painting by Stephen B Whatley

Today, Lourdes is a magnificent Marian shrine where millions visit each year.

Conrad Pickel’s  stained glass image Our Lady of Lourdes from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s stained glass image Our Lady of Lourdes from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s  stained glass image of Saint Bernadette from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

Conrad Pickel’s stained glass image of Saint Bernadette from Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes site, Marinette, WI.

February 11th is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the patron of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Raytown, Missouri.

Pope Benedict visits the Lourdes grotto.

Pope Benedict visits the Lourdes grotto.