The Church used to have a mini-season called "Pre-Lent." It was three Sundays to get ready for Lent. I think it was a good idea because most effective changes are step by step. If we try to change too radically and too fast, we often fail and lose heart. But we must change, unless we are already perfect. Blessed John Henry Newman, who will soon be canonized a saint, said, "To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often." Other words for this sort of positive change in our lives are conversion and repentance. I mention this because we have just one more week before Lent begins. Start to prepare yourself now. Decide what your Lenten discipline will be. Why not go ahead and start? You have nothing to lose by starting early! Jesus calls us, "Repent and believe the Gospel."
After a successful year last year, the Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministry is about to launch for a new year. I would like to get in front of the appeals from the diocese with some instruction about Christian stewardship.
One of the important truths of our Catholic faith is that everything matters. The various parts of our lives are not supposed to pull us apart and drive us crazy but rather are to be integrated into our discipleship of the Lord Jesus. Work, prayer, recreation, health, family, politics, etc. are not supposed to be separated in our lives but rather integrated under the lordship of Jesus Christ. He alone can hold us and all the aspects of ourselves together in a meaningful whole. I think that we deeply desire for our lives to have meaning - to make sense, and yet so often I fear that we feel trapped in meaningless activity.READ MORE
Some changes simply happen, and we adjust accordingly. This is the sort of change we have been dealing with for the last couple of weeks, and I think we are managing our new situation well.
There are also planned changes, and I want to talk about one of these today. In the current building, St. Rose has never had a designated place for confessions. Our confessional now, if you can call it that, is really our parish library, which is also a pass-through from the church to the meeting room wing. It is far from an ideal situation for the privacy needed for this sacrament. The space is also hot in the summer and cold in the winter. When more than one priest is hearing confessions, the situation is even more of a stretch. Last weekend, for example, I set up an additional confessional in the cry room, which is "sub-optimal," to say the least! As far as sacred space goes, we need designated confessionals more than anything else.READ MORE
I want to reiterate in writing the verbal announcement made at all the Masses last weekend regarding Fr. Joe's medical leave in order to communicate to the parish in as transparent and timely a manner as possible. When Fr. Joe returned from his vacation, he went, after consultation with the diocese, for an evaluation of his psychological, spiritual, and physical health. This evaluation was scheduled just before he left on his vacation. The conclusion reached was that Fr. Joe is taking a medical leave in order to focus on the issues identified in the evaluation without distraction. This decision was made in coordination with Fr. Joe and the diocese. Fr. Joe will be participating in a clinical program and fully intends to return to active ministry at its conclusion, taking into account its recommendations. The time-frame of the program is projected to be a matter of months. I ask for the support of your prayers for Fr. Joe during this time, turning your concern for him into prayer. If any of you has any pastoral matter that involved Fr. Joe, I ask that you contact the office so that Fr. Michael or I or one of the deacons can be of service to you. Finally, I want to add the assurance of prayers from Bishop Spalding. In particular, he emphasizes the gift of the priesthood in the life of the parish. His words were: "the priesthood is always a gift." I appreciate very much the concern and support of the bishop for the parish and for Fr. Joe. As always, count on my prayers.READ MORE