1st Sunday of Lent -February 10, 2008

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

 Our Lenten journey of 40 days has begun! In the course of the centuries, our Catholic Lenten discipline is of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving have undergone numerous and radical changes. Today, unfortunately, the strict observance of Lent is but mere formalism, reduced to abstinence on certain days and without any stress on one’s spiritual growth or the amending of one’s lifestyle.

 It is urgent that all Catholics returned to the pristine spirit of the “Great Lenten Fast” which is so badly needed in our materialistic world. At St. John Parish we will help you make a profitable Forty-Day period of prayer, fasting, and spiritual exercises in preparation for the proper celebration of Easter 2008.

 On this first Sunday of Lent we enter the barren desert with the Lord Jesus. In the weeks to come we will climb the mountain of Transfiguration with him. Soon after, we will witness Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, and as Lent draws towards Easter, we will witness him healing the blind man and stand in awesome wonder as he raises his friend Lazarus from the dead. But first, brothers and sisters, we must follow the Lord into the desert of repentance, which our scriptures invite us to do now.

 You are invited to deepen your Lenten reading of Sacred Scripture with myself and Deacon John at our class each Thursday night of Lent at 6:30 PM in the chapel. Join us!

 Finally, tomorrow, Monday, February 11th, 2008, is the worldwide celebration of the 150th Anniversary of our Blessed Mother’s appearance to St. Bernadette Soubirous (feast day February 18th) at the grotto of Lourdes, in France, in 1858. By appearing in the barren grotto of Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin Mary made it a privileged sanctuary where heavenly graces are dispensed and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both physical and spiritual.

 The most pure Virgin Mary manifested her shining life in sweetness and beauty in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child Saint Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore Our Lady’s maternal intercession as “Health of the Sick”, “Refuge of All Sinners”, and “Comforter of the Afflicted.”

 Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, invites the whole Church on this anniversary to obtain a plenary indulgence, which he has granted us. To obtain the indulgence today, I invite you to simply come before our Lady’s statue at the side altar. Pray the Creed, Our Father, and Hail Mary for the intentions of the Pope. Perhaps light a votive candle for your intentions as well. Sometime this year, Pope Benedict XVI will visit the shrine of Lourdes, but the Vatican has not yet disclosed the date.

 Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Mother of God, you had influence with your divine Son while on Earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us, obtain for us from your Divine Son all our special requests. Our Lady of Lourdes, intercede for us! St. Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us!

Fruitful Lenten Days!
Pleasant Lenten Sunday to all!
Fr. Jim



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