Dear Sisters and Brothers –
On this First Sunday of Lent, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the desert for forty days. As the Scriptures tell us, he was tempted by Satan and ministered to by angels. Those forty days recall the forty years the Israelites wandered in the desert, after leaving the slavery of Egypt, but before entering the hope of the Promised Land. It was not an easy time, the desert, and over the years there were times the Chosen People wandered also from their faith, setting up false gods, and grumbled against Moses asking, “Is God with us or not?”
Lent is a time to go into that desert with intentionality and notice how we, like our ancient forebears in faith, grumble against God, questioning God’s attention to us. When we lose a loved one or a life companion; when we are infirm and homebound and separated from our faith community; when we have been diagnosed with cancer or come out of remission, and it could lead to death; when we struggle to overcome our addictions or become fatigued of supporting someone in that struggle we love; when we watch helplessly as discord, smallness, and meanness in our government become the norm; when we feel powerless as the number of people without homes increases or those fleeing violence in their home countries are scapegoated; when we feel weary from dealing with the uncertainties of supporting our families or raising our children in this modern age; when life deals, and keeps dealing, a hand that threatens to overwhelm us, we are tempted to ask, “Is God with us or not?”
But Lent is also a time to notice that temptation is not the only reality of the desert; it is also a place where angels come and minister. Dominican Father Jude Siciliano writes:
“When an addiction seems impossible to break and we find help in a group; when we are distraught over the death of a loved one and other widowed friends share their stories and give us courage; when we are laid up in bed with a broken leg or bad back and friends come by to relieve the loneliness; when our faith is dry and we go to church wondering why we bother and the prayer and faith of other worshippers give us hope; when we want to be a peacemaker, live a simpler life, or choose the path of service and we hear nothing but the voices of naysayers. Then the lives of the saints and stories of contemporary Christians are our “angels” in the wilderness, ministering to us, enabling us to be faithful to the call we hear and are trying to live out. Our ideals and dreams are other “angels” that, if we stay with them, may lift us up and sustain us through difficult and testing times in our lives.”
God does not intend that we wander the desert alone; we are called to that journey as a faith community, to bear our trials together, to be angels to one another, ministering to one another as we pray, fast, and generously give alms, so that we are, together, made more and more into the image of Christ.
Because our faith journey, both in and out of Lent, is not a solo journey, you will see cards in the pews inviting those of you who worship at St. Ignatius Church to become part of St. Ignatius Parish. If you are not a registered member of our Parish, we would like to engage you more in our faith community by letting you know of our unique events and liturgies, inviting you to share your special gifts with our community, and more. Please take a few seconds to give us your name and email address, and we’ll begin to send our weekly parish update in the form of an e-Newsletter to your inbox. (And if you are registered, you can update your info on this card, too!) Please drop completed cards either in the collection baskets or in the baskets located at the doors of the church.
May God continue to bless you this holy season.
Oremus pro invicem.