His Forty Days and Ours

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days…and when they were over he was hungry
— Luke 4:1-2

The biblical starting point for the First Sunday of Lent each year is always the temptation of Our Lord in the desert which took place during his forty-day retreat of preparation for His public ministry, in preparation for His passion, death and resurrection. In imitation of Christ—the essence of the Church’s purpose—we walk through forty days of preparation, penitence and conversion. It is meant to be hard, it is meant to be practical, it is meant to be focused, it is meant to be transformative

This annual observance of forty days, is officially called Quadragesima in the Latin, meaning forty. It has begun. We are in the midst of those 40 days. Perhaps as we have made a beginning, we could already have the end in mind. On Palm Sunday (April 14) when we have in our hands the palms that will be burned next year to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday 2020, we will hear these words at the beginning of the procession: “Since the beginning of Lent until now we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works…let us [now] commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation, following in His footsteps, so that, being made partakers of the Cross, we may have a share also in His Resurrection and in His life.” So may it be. May each step we take this Lent be an imitation of Christ, a decision to follow in His footsteps.

Let us be clear: the point is not perfection, scoring ’10 points’ for our efforts as if our Lenten performance were a gymnastic routine being judged. The point is rather sincere repentance, heartfelt prayer and boldness in our engagement in the works of mercy and charity. Keep it simple. Even if we begin badly, we can begin again. Even if we falter, we can refocus our attention on the goal. Even if we stumble in sin or misstep in our Lenten resolutions there is hope for us in confession and in the many opportunities to grow in humility and reliance on God. Avail yourselves of the abundant graces of these forty days—His and ours! May this season see us dwelling with Christ in the wilderness so that his vanquishing of the devil may be His victory in us. When these forty days are over, may there be some real and abiding change in us!


Some notes for these sacred days:

  • The Sauerkraut Supper was an absolute success! What an exercise in teamwork, fellowship, Christian joy and the utterly unique way that food brings all sorts of people together. Thanks to each and every volunteer, especially Joan Turpin, Janice Frakie, Ray & Nancy Dehler and Molly & Mike Jakacki, who labored in big ways and in small ways to make it such an effective occasion of hospitality for hundreds and hundreds of guests, friends and neighbors. Bravo to all! When tallies are in we will share information on the number of volunteers, number of meals served and money raised which go to our Parish Activities Fund!

  • Our season of Fish Fry Dinners is also off to a rocking start! This time of year you can practically survive on just the food served around Holy Cross. As the Culver’s marquee sometimes says we are, “Your Lenten Headquarters”! Don’t forget to make the Stations of the Cross part of your regimen of prayer this Lent along with reading the Scriptures and spending time in quiet adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

  • Save the date: All women of the parish are invited to a Seven Sisters Lenten Morning of Recollection at St. Hedwig on Saturday, April 6 from 9:30-11 am. Seven Sisters is an apostolate dedicated to praying for priests. More information can be found at sevensistersapostolate.org - the morning is open to current Seven Sisters and anyone interested in learning more about this opportunity to pray in a concerted way for priests. I am grateful to those already committed to this vital and supportive mission for my brother priests and I.

  • Almsgiving and our solidarity with those in need is a central part of this season. Thanks to those who responded to our invitation to commit to support this year’s Catholic Services Appeal and the twenty ministries that depend upon it. If you have not yet watched this year’s film on our parish website, please do so. If you have not yet returned an envelope you can do so to the parish office, or in the weekend collection baskets through the next few weeks. Additionally, we welcome Fr. Bob Hazel back to our parish as he preaches on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach. Last time he was with us we had almost as much snow on the ground in mid-April of last spring! Of course our Lenten Almsgiving Drive has begun again as well. Thanks to our organizers and to all who have contributed.

  • Birthday greetings: This past Monday, March 4th, our beloved Fr. Earl Simonson turned 89 years old. He was able to join us for the Sauerkraut Supper to celebrate. Stay tuned for more details of the festivities tied to his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination in a few months. On the topic of birthdays, Brother Finbar, one of the Christian Brothers in residence at River Village turned 95 years old on the same day. Ad multos annos! Sto lat!

May these forty days draw us to an ever deeper hunger for God,

Fr. Howe