Third Sunday of Lent

Welcome, Father Bill Taylor!  It is good to have you present at Saint John Paul II Parish once again to celebrate Mass for us.  Thank you for generously sharing yourself with us and for filling in for Father Jim who is with the Knights of Columbus this weekend.   


The Church celebrates the Third Sunday of Lent today.  This Sunday, as well as the Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, the Gospel (and other Scripture Readings) proclaimed will be taken from the Cycle A Lectionary, even though we are currently in Cycle C.  The reason is that these next three Sundays we celebrate the Rite of Scrutiny with our Elect.  The Elect are those Catechumens who, on the First Sunday of Lent, were presented to the Bishop at the Cathedral during the Rite of Election.  Their sponsors affirmed their readiness for Baptism and all present promised their support and prayers for the Elect throughout this Lenten Season.   Five youth from our parish (Nadia, Raven, Aliyanna, Cheyenne, and Gabriella) were elected for Baptism by Bishop Cistone and signed their names in the Book/s of the Elect which the bishop and deacon processed throughout the Cathedral Church and placed near the baptismal font for all to see.  These individuals are now in the process of their immediate preparation for receiving the sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.  Part of their preparation is the celebration of the Rites of Scrutiny.  Scrutines are rites of self-searching and repentance. The first scrutiny is based on this week’s Gospel, the familiar story of the Woman at the Well.  The Elect reflect upon areas in their lives and in our broken world in which they, and all of us, thirst for the presence of God and call upon his compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.   The Act of Penitence is omitted at a Mass in which a Rite of Scrutiny is celebrated because of its penitential character and our response, “Kyrie Eleison.”  I encourage you to read the article by Father Paul Turner in today’s bulletin entitled, Scrutiny to learn more about the meaning of these rites.  Please pray for our Elect this Lenten Season and also for our parish that we may experience true conversion of heart as we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises this Easter.


On Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5, a special opportunity will be available to celebrate the Individual Rite of Penance in one of several churches under the patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as the Cathedral church.  You may have noticed the flyers on the bulletin boards in the church entrances or the notices in the bulletin entitled: 24 Hours with the Lord.    This is a special period of time (Friday and Saturday) being provided for all of us during this Jubilee Year of Mercy to celebrate the sacrament of Penance, encounter the “heart of Christ,” and receive the special grace of the sacrament of God’s great mercy.  Priests will be available in the designated Churches listed on our Lenten flyer (enclosed once again in today’s bulletin) for a period of 24 hours: Noon - 7:00 PM on Friday, and 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM on Saturday.  The churches nearest to us that are part of the 24 Hours with the Lord this coming weekend are the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption and Sacred Heart (Kakawlin).  There will be no Confessions at Saint John Paul II Parish this Saturday, as Father Jim, along with the priests of our diocese, will be confessors at the various designated churches throughout the diocese for the celebration of the sacrament of Penance for 24 Hours with the Lord.   Please read the insert entitled Reconciliation by Father Paul Turner in today’s bulletin.  This article was provided to us by the diocesan Office of Liturgy and is a good review of how to celebrate the individual Rite of Penance.  Also, if you would like to read more about the Holy Doors, their significance to this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the relationship of penance and the sacrament of Penance to the Holy Doors, there are some pamphlets in the front entrance of Church you may take and read.   


Please note that the third in the Lenten series of the Pilgrimage of Mercy takes place at Saint John Paul II Parish this Thursday.  Soup Supper begins at 5:30 PM in the gym of the parish Education Center.  Father Bert Gohm’s talk on forgiveness will begin at 6:45 PM in Church.  I do hope many of you will be able to take part in the evening.


This past week you should have received a letter from me along with CSA materials from the diocese.  Saint John Paul II Parish Finance Council chose this weekend as the inauguration of the 2016-2017 Catholic Services Appeal.  Joe Roesner, one of the members of the Finance Council, will be speaking at the Masses this weekend regarding the appeal.  The theme of this Year’s CSA is Serving with the Heart of Christ.  As I mentioned in my letter, our target this year in addressing the needs of the wider church is $54,960.00 which is a reduction of $9,699.00 in comparison to last year’s assessment.  I am confident that if each of us takes seriously our responsibility to support CSA, we can easily meet this monetary goal.  I thank you in advance for your discernment and generosity in supporting this coming year’s Catholic Services Appeal. 


Blessings on your Lenten journey!

Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ