Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter-March 3, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

On Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we begin our 40-day Lenten journey to the Sacred Triduum and Easter marked by the three ancient disciplines of the season: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  (Be sure to take a Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl, to collect the alms saved from that Starbucks cup of coffee or whatever it is from which you’ll fast!  We’ll collect those for you at the end of Lent.)

As noted in the introduction of the booklet of daily reflections we’re providing, the stories that accompany us on our journey are powerful and familiar.  Sometimes they’re so familiar that we don’t hear them or the story of God working out our individual and communal salvation.  I’d suggest reviewing the reflection questions for the Sunday readings I proposed a few weeks ago to help prepare for Mass: “Do these apply to my life?” “What insights do these offer me?” or other, similar questions.

This Lenten season, we’re offering another avenue for common reflection and sharing about the ways God is moving in our lives.  It grew out of an ongoing desire of our faith community to name, heal, and, perhaps, create something new out of the ashes of the clergy sex abuse crisis.  Our various Leadership Commissions have returned to this question throughout the past months.  During their conversation about this in January, the members of the Worship Commission shared that in their personal circles of family and friends, as well as within themselves, they are encountering the question, “Why do you/I remain Catholic?”  The discussion was lively, and they wondered if others in our parish community were encountering the same query.

After further conversation among the Parish Staff, I took the question to the members of the Parish Council, who discussed this at length at their February meeting.  Their reaction was that this is a very live, real-time topic in our households.  Not only were they enthusiastic about a proposed Lenten series around this, they offered some excellent suggestions to shape it.

For each of the six weeks of Lent, the bulletin and the e-newsletter will publish short essays by two St. Ignatius parishioners articulating for themselves and for us, “Why I Am Catholic.”  In addition to the testimonies, the bulletin and newsletter will provide questions to spark our own reflection about why we choose to be Catholic.  I hope that this sparks conversations at home.  Finally, after the 11:00 am and 5:00 pm Masses on March 31, and before the 5:00 pm on April 6, and after the 8:00 am and 9:30 am Masses on April 7, one or two different parishioners will present their testimonies live, followed by discussion and sharing in small groups.

The goal, which came as the fruit of the deep and sincere conversations of both parishioners and staff, is to help us notice and articulate how God is moving in our lives, and why our Catholic faith remains vital to each of us in the face of often-compelling challenges to that faith.  I hope that you’ll join us by quietly reading the essays by your fellow parishioners, prayerfully reflecting on those and on the prompt questions we will provide, thoughtfully engaging the questions with your family and perhaps some friends, and joining us for one of the post-Mass presentations and conversations.

Oremus pro invicem, as we walk this journey these 40 days, that our time of prayer and our practices of fasting and almsgiving enable us to notice more clearly the ways that God is moving in our lives, in our church and in our world, and bring all to the wholeness and new life that Easter promises.

-Fr. Greg