It’s been a strange and unusually warm winter, hasn’t it?  With the exception of a few extraordinarily frigid days and one snow storm, it’s felt more like fall or spring than winter.  Now, spring is fast approaching.  Liturgically, Lent – which means “spring” – is almost here; it starts this week with Ash Wednesday.  Just as the natural world is reawakened and renewed every spring, each year, the Church, in her wisdom, offers us this liturgical Season of Lent, a season for reconciliation and renewal in preparation for Easter, when we celebrate the new life Jesus offers through his death and Resurrection.

On Ash Wednesday, we will again be made aware of our sinfulness and our need for salvation.  We are called to choose to accompany Jesus as he offers his life to save us.  On Ash Wednesday, we will receive ashes on our forehead as both a sign of repentance and a call to choose to prepare for our eternal salvation.  This is why the person who imposes ashes has a choice of two formulas: “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.”

In preparation for the Lenten Season, I offer you copies of the popular Lenten Black Book at the church entrances for your inspiration and edification.  Feel free to take one for yourself and another for a friend or neighbor who isn’t able to come to church in person.  This booklet offers brief, thought-provoking reflections for every day of Lent based on the Sunday Mass readings as well as interesting quotes, information and timely thoughts.

This is also a very good time to take advantage of the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is scheduled every Saturday 4:00 – 4:45pm, except on Holy Saturday (30 March).  And, we will again host a regional Lenten Penance Service on Wednesday, 20 March, beginning at 7:00pm.

On Wednesday, 13 March, we will have our Lenten Evening of Reflection beginning with a soup and bread dinner at 6:15pm.  As we continue to join with the rest of our country in the three-year Eucharistic Revival, I will be offering some reflections on the Eucharist as the once-and-for all sacrifice for our salvation.  Mark your calendars and plan to attend!

We will also have Stations of the Cross throughout Lent at 7:00pm every Friday evening.  Our school students will present their annual Living Stations on Friday, 22 March.  This is a very moving way to prepare for Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord just two days later, on 24 March.  And, in addition to the beautiful Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00pm on Holy Thursday, 28 March, and the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion at 3:00pm on Good Friday, we will lead the procession at 11:45am that day to Wayne Methodist Church for the annual Wayne Ecumenical Ministerium Good Friday Service; it will begin there at 12:00noon.  We’re privileged to have the Ama Deus Ensemble perform the Bach Mass in B Minor beginning at 7:00pm that same evening.  All of these events will offer us very powerful occasions to close this most Holy Week of the year.

Another essential aspect of the Lenten Season is almsgiving.  As we become aware of the great sacrifice our Lord, Jesus, made for us on the cross, we are called to share in his sacrifice by sharing the abundance of God’s gifts with those in need around the world.  Operation Rice Bowl is an excellent way to do just that.  Rice Bowls are at the church entrances for your use.  Over the past few years, these Rice Bowl packets have become more interesting, with reflections on and recipes from a variety of areas in the world that Catholic Relief Services supports through your donations.  This year, the countries are Uganda, El Salvador and Indonesia, where I was born.  You can also meet your global family at

Yes, this is a very important time for us Christians.  Let us take the opportunity, once again, to join together in turning back to God and to each other as we prepare to celebrate the new life we have received in the Risen Lord at Easter!