Second Sunday of Lent

This weekend we welcome Father Pat O’Connor who will be presiding at the 4:00 PM Saturday Mass.  Father Pat is covering for Father Jim on Saturday so that he can be present for a Knights of Columbus Mass and Tribute Dinner.  In turn, Father Jim will be covering for Father Pat at the 5:30 PM Sunday Mass at Saint Brigid of Kildare Church in Midland.  I worked with Father Pat at the Office of Liturgy for six years and thoroughly enjoyed both serving on projects and being part of presentations with him.  I am very pleased and grateful that he was willing and able to exchange Masses with Father Jim and share his gifts of ministry with us.

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent.  Each year, on this particular Sunday, we hear one of the accounts of the Transfiguration (this year, Mark’s account). As early as the third century, a theologian named Origen identified the traditional site of the Mount of the Transfiguration as Mount Tabor.  Mount Tabor is west of the Sea of Gallilee, about 11 miles, and it rises about 1800 feet above the plain below.  For the disciples, the Transfiguration of Jesus was a foreshadowing of the resurrection.  They did not fully understand it at the time that they saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes and witnessed Moses and Elijah (who have been dead for a long time) conversing with Jesus.  However, they were transformed by the experience.  We ourselves don’t have such dramatic experiences, but sometimes our encounters with Christ in prayer, in the sacraments, and in others leave us transformed.  Hopefully, our prayer, fasting and abstinence will provide the opportunity for us to meet Christ in new and deeper ways this Lenten Season.  And, as we do, may we, like Peter, James and John, be transformed in ways that change our hearts, change our minds, change our attitudes, change our sinful habits, and make us determined, with God’s grace, to live a life worthy of our calling.

Our Soup Supper takes place this Wednesday at 6:00 PM in the Parish Education Center.  It will be followed by a reflection and an experience of Contemplative Prayer in Church at 7:00 PM.  We will be hosting parishioners from four other parishes within our Vicariate (Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, Christ the Good Shepherd, Holy Family, and Saint John Vianney) with whom we have joined together in providing a Pilgrimage of Prayer this Lenten Season.  Ours is the second of the churches to be “visited” on the pilgrimage.  Sister Dianne Doughty, OSC and Sister Laura Hammel, OSC, both of whom are Sisters of Saint Clare, will lead the prayer that evening.   [You may recognize them because they have joined us for Eucharist at Saint John Paul II a few times this past year].  The Sisters of Saint Clare are a Contemplative Community of Nuns within our diocese (present since 1991 when Bishop Ken Untener invited them to come to Saginaw).  They devote themselves primarily to prayer, seeking to know the presence of God in their lives and to bring others closer to God through prayer.  Their Religious Order was founded by Saint Clare of Assisi.  In their own words, they explain their vocation in the following way: We choose to set aside family, career, travel, and security in exchange for a solitary life within a community.  Logic cannot explain our desire to spend the day in prayer.  Our way of life can only be explained as a “call” or “vocation” from God.  How blessed we are to have Sisters Dianne and Laura with us this coming Wednesday to help us understand, experience and appreciate the form of prayer known as  contemplation!

A few points of clarification: 1) The Women’s Evening of Reflection on Thursday, March 26 sponsored by the Rosary Altar Society will take place at Saint John Paul II Parish (not at the Center for Ministry).  The Officers of the Rosary Altar Society informed me shortly before my Lenten letter went out in the mail that they had moved the “Evening of Reflection” due to cost restraints and to help make it easier on some of the senior women for travel.  I am quite sure the Lenten letter you received from me contained the revised schedule.  However, I noticed that the bulletin these past two weekends did not include the revised schedule.  (Thus, the Evening of Reflection was listed for the Center for Ministry instead of Saint John Paul II Parish). The evening will begin at 5:30 PM with Mass at Church.  2) Some people have been asking why the holy water fonts/stoops are not emptied of water or covered with purple (based upon their experience in other parish churches).  Though it may have been a practice in some places, to my knowledge it was not done within our merged parishes the past ten years that I have been around.  The reason that fonts are not emptied is because Lent has everything to do with Baptism.  We do not take away or fast from our sacramentals (of which holy water is one) during Lent.  Furthermore, there is a prohibition against removing holy water from fonts (or filling them with sand as had been done in some places) during Lent.   All prayer is Trinitarian; we are reminded of this when we sign ourselves with the cross.  In blessing ourselves with holy water, we recall our baptism.  During the Lenten Season, doing so especially causes us to pause and reflect upon how we are living out our baptismal promises. As the Elect prepare for Baptism we strive to live out more fully our discipleship in Christ.  Please note, per the Ordo that holy water should be removed from all fonts before the Paschal Triduum begins on Holy Thursday evening and refilled with water blessed at the Easter Vigil.   

Last week I summarized the information in the articles I wrote December 14 and 21 regarding the independent evaluation of the musical instruments in our parish and the subsequent decision and recommendation by the Director of the Office of Liturgy.  I will not repeat any of that this week, but simply continue where I left off: explaining the groundwork that has been done and the timing of the moving of the instruments.  In terms of the ground work, Patrick Portner was instrumental in overseeing the “mechanics” at each of the church sites so that once moved, instruments would be ready to play.  As for the main parish Church, platforms to hold the speakers were put in place.  All is intact so that either of the two digital organs may be played in this building.  In other words, nothing has been disconnected, but extra cable has been added to accommodate the Allen organ that will be placed in church.  Everything is also in place (blower, cables, and swell shades) so that should we, in the future, decide to go forward with the installation of the pipe organ (presently at Saint Matthew Church, re-voicing and enhancing it with electronics), it would be possible to connect it.  Since Patrick oversaw all of the above as a volunteer, there was no cost involved.  He also helped obtain the bids for the moving and set up of the instruments from one church building to another. We received very reasonable bids.  (Both Patrick and I worked with a couple of these companies in the past, and have had good professional relationships with them.  I think that made a difference in their willingness to give us a good rate).  And best of all, a couple of parishioners came forward and offered to help cover the cost of moving the instruments before we even received the bids.  So, it is costing the Parish little to nothing to have the instruments in place.  If all goes as scheduled, by next weekend the instruments should be moved and in playing order.  Once again that means, as recommended by the diocesan Office of Liturgy and supported by both Pastoral Council and Finance Council to go ahead and move the instruments at the present time: the Baldwin grand piano from the Saint Matthew Church site will be moved to the Saint Josaphat Church site, and the K. Kawai grand piano from the Saint Josaphat Church site will be moved to the Saint Matthew Church site.  The organ from our present worship space will be placed in the Saint John the Baptist Church site and the Allen Organ from the Saint John the Baptist Church site will be placed in the Saint Josaphat Church site, the main Church of Saint John Paul II Parish.  Thus, as we continue to use the churches for occasional use, we will have instruments to accompany the liturgies that take place there.

Don’t forget to save next Sunday, March 8, for the K of C Breakfast.  Proceeds go to Saint John Paul II Parish.  We are most grateful to the Knights for their generosity in providing these wonderful breakfasts which benefit our parishes.


Blessings on your Lenten Journey!

Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ