First Sunday of Lent

This weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent.  Bishop Cistone will celebrate the Rite of Election at the Cathedral on Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm.  Two of our Catechumens, Belia and Matteo, along with their sponsors, family, Amy and me, will attend on Saturday evening.  They will be sent forth from Eucharist to the Cathedral for a Liturgy of the Word in which they will be elected by the Bishop for Baptism at this year’s Easter Vigil and they will sign a special Book of the Elect.  From that time on, they will be referred to as the Elect.    

Hopefully, you received my letter this past week with the Lenten Schedule and the various flyers noting the Vicariate Pilgrimage of Prayer and the five-week series on the Mass.  Besides our weekday liturgy schedule with the added evening Mass on the first four Tuesdays of Lent in addition to the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, I am sure that all of us will be able to find something at Saint John Paul II Parish to enrich our spiritual lives this Lenten Season.  I would like to note that I have placed some reading material in the pamphlet rack in the main entrance of Church, including some booklets entitled Preparing for Confession.  Please help yourself to whatever might be beneficial to you.

Today’s Gospel is Mark’s account of Jesus going out into the desert and being tempted by Satan.  He does not go into any detail as to how Jesus was tempted.  The Gospel is very short and ends with the words of Jesus as he enters Galilee: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  That last phrase is what we were told as ashes were imposed on our foreheads this past Wednesday.  Just as Jesus faced temptation, we surely face temptation.  Temptation forces us to make a choice.  And sometimes we make the wrong choice.  Thus, we are called to conversion, to repent and believe in the Gospel.  Confronting temptation and overcoming sinfulness is what we, as disciples of Christ, are called to do this Lenten Season in order that we might faithfully live out our baptismal call and share in the mission of Jesus.  When we truly live lives worthy of our calling, then others will be drawn to Christ through us and will know that the kingdom of God is at hand.  As we continue to reflect on the Gospel this week, let us think of the ways in which we are tempted and how we might make better choices when confronted by temptation.

I would like to point out a few of the inserts in today’s bulletin: Father Jim’s notes on Mass Etiquette (from his Teaching Mass), the Reflection on the first of the five loves of Saint John Paul II (review of the book you received on Christmas), and the Seasons insert for the First Sunday of Lent.  Please make sure you spend some time reading these, especially if you missed part II of the Teaching Mass, of if you have not yet read the book Saint John Paul the Great: his Five Loves.   

On December 14 and December 21, included in my bulletin articles, I wrote about the independent evaluation of the musical instruments in the churches of our three merged parishes, and the subsequent recommendation and directives made by the Office of Liturgy to our parish.  I will include a summary of those articles to refresh our memories and prepare us for what will be taking place in the near future.  In my December 14th bulletin article I explained that it was customary when parishes merged to form a new parish that the musical instruments from each of the parishes be evaluated by a professional designated by the Office of Liturgy.  The main reason for the assessment is to determine which are the best (and most valuable) of the instruments and the ones that should be kept and used in the main worship space.  After the assessment is done, the assessor sends a repost to the Office of Liturgy, then the parish receives a report along with a recommendation from the Diocesan Office of Liturgy based on that report.  A second reason for the assessment has to do with having the remaining instruments (when no longer needed for our use) available for other parishes (who have inferior instruments) to purchase existing instruments within the diocese rather than purchasing brand new ones (especially in the case of churches for additional use).   All parishes are responsible for a master plan for all buildings, resources and equipment within those buildings, and that includes musical instruments.  In my December 21st bulletin article, I shared the following information which is a summary of the report we received from the diocese.  I received a report and recommendation from Father Jim Bessert (Director of the Office of Liturgy) following the assessment and report of the independent auditor he designated to evaluate the musical instruments in Saints John the Baptist, Josaphat, and Matthew Churches.  There were a couple of conditions that were noted: 1) that these arrangements are considered necessary and immediate but we still need to submit a master plan which would incorporate a more permanent arrangement of musical instruments, and 2) that we take care to maintain the Hillgreen Lane pipe organ located at the Saint Matthew Church site (i.e. tuning, playing/practicing on the instrument on a regular basis, and having a proper building temperature for maintenance) with the recommendation that serious consideration be given to the incorporation of that instrument (with all the technological advancements and augmentations) when creating the master plan for the parish with regard to the principal instrument in the future. 

A summary of the report is as follows: three pianos (two grand pianos and one studio piano) and three organs (one pipe organ and two electronic digital organs) were evaluated.  Based upon the recommendation of the independent auditor and after consultation with the Director of Facilities Management for the Diocese, Father Jim proposed the following in response to our request to have the instruments evaluated.

  • Relocate the Baldwin grand piano (presently at the Saint Matthew Church site) and replace it with the current Kawai grand piano presently at the primary worship site (Saint Josaphat Church).
  • Relocate the Allen Organ (located at the Saint John the Baptist Church Site) to the Saint Josaphat Church site (main worship site) and replace it with the current organ at the Saint Josaphat Church Site
  • Secure a professional assessment of the organ at the Saint Josaphat Church Site to determine cost of repair of the instrument and/or resale value
  • Share in detail the full report with the Parish pastoral and Finance Councils
  • Give report and rationale to Saint John Paul II parishioners
  • Secure the necessary the necessary professional services for re-location and set-up of instruments
  • Assure that dependable and usable musical instruments remain at the Churches for occasional use for weddings funerals, and all other liturgies that take place there

Both the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council, at each of their meetings decided that Saint John Pail II parish should go ahead with implementing the present recommendations as proposed by the Office of Liturgy and noted that it makes perfect sense that we should be using and keeping the most valuable and reliable instruments in the best shape at the main worship site.  Next week, I will share with you, the background work that has been done and the final plan for the moving of the instruments.

Blessings on your Lenten journey!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ