1st Sunday of Lent

02-21-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last April, a pew study found that 25% of Americans believed that their faith was stronger due to the pandemic. I wonder if that statistic has held up after so many frustrating months of rules, precautions and isolation. Many ask, "Where is God in all of this?" We've all seen some of the grief people have carried during the COVID-19 pandemic at the loss of regular accessibility of the great Sacrament of the Eucharist. I suspect some have begun to question whether faith is as essential as they once thought.

I worry about what will happen to "cultural Catholics" that came to Holy Mass only out of a sense of duty on an occasional Sunday and on major holidays but never really had a

relationship with Jesus. What are they doing now? They can be fertile ground for evangelical efforts. I believe the pandemic produced a generation of lukewarm Catholics that will not be able to find their way back into the fold with success.

The great St. Teresa of Avila described the lukewarm as those who do not embrace the cross; they merely drag it along. Maybe this describes your faith as we enter into the season of Lent.

Some have asked me, "Father, do you think the devil is behind this?" I don't have any doubt that ol' hairy legs is certainly behind this. What would the devil like to do more than separate and divide the members of the Body of Christ permanently? The world cannot afford this! We need God now more than ever in our lifetime.

When asked what we should do about the demonic, I suggest that we get back to the basics of our faith. That is, in the context of evil we need to return to what has been tried and true for the Church with a renewed sense of devotion—the sacraments, most especially, the Eucharist, confession, adoration, a return to daily prayer, the rosary, the study of Sacred Scripture. It's all there, waiting for us.

Returning to Our Lord is not done in isolation. Rather, it is our communal life that has suffered and it is our communal life that should be our greatest Lenten priority—the Stations of the Cross, our Lenten mission in a few weeks, confession, daily masses, a return to Sunday Lenten liturgies if your health permits, along with our private acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. One key prayer intention that we should all consider is to pray for the Church universal—that we will all find the Lord again!

Our parish staff has been working hard to prepare for Lent. Watch the bulletin and our website for a Lenten resource guide that will assist you on your Lenten journey. We need one another. We need Jesus Christ to show us the way.

I pray for our openness this Lent—that we will be even better than we were last Lent that was upended by the pandemic for so many. We had work to do then and we have more to do now! May you know the love of God now and always as we begin this holy season of Lent.