Following Christ Closely
The cover image of the bulletin displays a colorful rendition of the blind following the blind in reference to this Sunday’s Gospel from the sixth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel. We often grow lazy in giving an answer to the supreme question of our lives: who am I following? Probing to discover who we follow, whose disciple we are, what has captured our heart and propels us forward is to get to the heart of the matter. Lent—the great penitential season of the Church’s liturgical year—is the preeminent season to sift our hearts and to answer that question. Great news then that Lent begins this Wednesday! All of us plod forward in life along a particular trajectory, sometimes staggering after shadow figures and sometimes, in more lucid moments, realizing the more essential things. Lent is a time to reorient our lives to the close following of Christ; it is part of our training in becoming ever more fully His disciples. Let us live this season intentionally and with vigor.
Throughout the weeks to come in homilies and bulletin articles we will offer practical suggestions on welcoming the graces of Lent. Suggestions can be offered, but only you can act on them. Perhaps a scriptural focus for our living of the Lenten season as a parish could be the first verses of Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” More than a race, Lent is a season to be deliberate about direction and sustained focus to put one foot in front of the other in our following of Christ.
Prayer as always is the most basic commitment of this season, but it must always be accompanied by fasting-penance and almsgiving-charity. I was struck with a recent patristic reading in the Office of Readings, part of the daily liturgy of the Church prayed throughout the world by priests, consecrated and laity. St. Gregory of Nyssa, the bishop of the early church preached in a homily, “As no darkness can be seen by anyone surrounded by light, so no trivialities can capture the attention of anyone who has his eyes on Christ…The wise man, then, turns his eyes toward the One who is his head, but the fool gropes in the darkness”. Christ calls us to follow Him and leave the cares and fleeting pleasures of the world behind. If you are interested in building the Liturgy of the Hours into your routine of prayer, you can find it online at divineoffice.org or using the iBreviary or Univeralis ap or website. We also have copies of the breviary available in the Adoration Chapel. Of course, I also renew my invitation to you to spend time in adoration between the morning Masses at Holy Cross, prior to the Sunday morning Mass at St. Hedwig and on Wednesday nights at St. Clement as well as on Thursday mornings at the River Village chapel adjacent to St. Hedwig. See p. 7 for details.
While Lent is right around the corner, it is not Lent yet! Just a few notes:
+ This weekend we are invited to do our part to support the Catholic Services Appeal which goes exclusively to sustain twenty designated outreach ministries. You can find the commitment envelopes at the ends of the pews and I invite you to view the brief CSAF film which is embedded in our homepage at www.ourholycross.org
+ Don’t forget about the famous Sauerkraut Supper this Tuesday, Mardi Gras. It is one of the high points of the year as we serve hundreds of guests. Our organizers, food preparers and everyone who is helping are to be commended. We still have substantial need for volunteers from all campuses. There are sign-ups available for various roles during one of the two shifts of the evening meal, or for clean-up. Thank you for your generosity. Of course volunteers can eat too! A special shout out to last year’s Sauerkraut King and Queen, Kaz and Maria Halak. Stay tuned for the crowning of this year’s royalty!
+ Our first Fish Fry supper is this Friday, March 8. Don’t miss our new times for Stations of the Cross, available at all of our campuses throughout the Fridays of Lent. These are great occasions of hospitality and fellowship. Remember the great cause that our Fish Fry season supports, the Don Bosco Youth Fund and check out the Don Bosco Task Force page on our website at: www.ourholycross.org/don-bosco-task-force. Volunteers are still needed to help in the dining room. Sign-ups are available at the doors of our churches. If you are a family with children enrolled in a Catholic school (K-12) or you are thinking of enrolling them in the upcoming year or two, please consider volunteering to help, since eligibility for Don Bosco Youth Fund Scholarships is tied to active involvement in volunteering at parish activities, especially at the Fish Fry suppers. More information on the scholarship process is forthcoming.
Important Note About Winter Weather and It’s Impact
The abundant snow of recent weeks has reminded us that we have hard earned ‘bragging rights’ as Minnesotans. This has been a classic kind of winter and a reminder that Minnesota is not for the faint of heart. I love the snow (and the cold) but it certainly causes challenges for transportation. The fact that a couple of snowfalls have coincided with weekends has also meant significantly decreased Mass attendance and collections. This has been a hardship for churches throughout the region. This provides an opportunity to remind you about the Simplified Giving option which helps us to stabilize our giving even when there is adverse weather: find out more at www.ourholycross.org/donate. I would also ask you to consider supplementing your weekly collection in the next couple of weeks to help us make up for the heavy impact of winter weather. Obviously cold and snowy weather means real increased costs to for heating, utilities and snow removal at all of our campuses. We have also had to have some selective ice dam and icicle removal. Thank you for your kind consideration and your constant support.
God bless, stay warm and stay safe on the roads, Fr. Howe