Lent: Our annual journey to holiness. Each year when I start thinking about Lent, I often seem initially drawn to the concepts of sacrifice and self-denial. These issues are significant, but in reality they are neither the starting point nor the end of the season. The goal of Lent, in fact, is quite the opposite. Lent is first and foremost a time, not for diminishment, but for growth and development. We should aspire to expand our hearts, enlarge our souls, and enrich our minds. Perhaps the meaning of the Lord’s words is this—God prefers a full heart to an empty stomach.
What is the goal of Lent? The first question I often ask is, “What should I give up for Lent?” A spiritual director once told me that I should begin Lent by asking, “What do I need for Lent?” or “What is missing from my life?” The first goal of Lent is holiness and the meaning of holiness is wholeness. Lent is a time to seek the real gifts we lack: patience, joy, trust, and compassion.
Once we determine what we lack, then we can turn to the question of self-denial. The human heart and soul are much like our hard drives and garages; they fill up with junk very quickly. The role of self-sacrifice is to discard the superfluous in order to clear a space for life’s real treasures. We know we are often distracted by noise, materialism, and self-absorption. We use the three disciplinary tools of Lent—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—to open our hearts and minds to others and to make room in our lives for God.
Prayer-Balance your spiritual life by integrating the body, mind, and soul in your prayer life. Enhance your prayer by turning off the TV, the iPod, and other devices. Create spaces where God’s voice can be heard. There are a number of prayer opportunities listed on the calendar. How about coming to a daily Mass? Or come to the adoration chapel for prayer once a week?
Fasting-Use your fasting, not to impress God with your discomfort, but to feed on the gifts for which you hunger most. Remember fasting can be more than giving up food. Fast from anger and blame.
Almsgiving-Connect your almsgiving to your fasting so that self-denial becomes other-enhancement. If you skip a daily latte, give the money to a worthy charity.
Parish Mission – Fr. Michael Griffin, the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Pierre, and has that wonderful monthly column in the Bishop’s Bulletin, will be here on the weekend of March 14 & 15 plus Monday and Tuesday following to offer a parish mission. There will be presentations on Monday and Tuesday evenings. More information will follow in the weekly Parish bulletin.
Bishop Paul Swain will be our celebrant and homilist at the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, March 22nd. I invited him to come and see our newly renovated Nave.
A couple reminders…
Have you scheduled your photo time for the new St. Michael church directory? There are numerous times available in March. You can sign up online or by calling the Parish office.
Have you returned your Catholic Family Sharing Appeal (CFSA) pledge card? Thanks to all who have already done so. Remember, we need all the cards returned, even if you choose not to give a monetary gift. If you have not done so, please attempt to return your card as soon as possible.
Goodbye to Mary Bittner– These monthly mailings do not happen by accident. For over a decade Mary has been organizing the envelopes and coordinating a group of volunteers to put labels on the envelopes and then filling them with this newsletter, parish calendar and monthly offering envelopes. Mary has also done numerous things around the Parish. She kept our plants growing in our sanctuary and in the parish office area. Mary cleaned and polished brass handles and tabernacles. She worked on weekends to check in our volunteers. Actually she did so many things, the list could go on and on. But most importantly she is a dear friend to me and our staff. She is moving to Parkston to be closer to her family members and to spend time with her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and soon a great-great grandchild. While I am happy for her and the new opportunity this gives her, I and all of us will deeply miss her. God’s blessings Mary. Thank you for all you have done for us throughout the years.
God Bless all of you!
(Rev.) Charles L. Cimpl