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Lent III

Daily Sermons
March 17 – Fr. McKenna – St. Patrick: Father of the Faith in Ireland
March 18 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Call None Your Father Upon Earth
March 19 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Our Lord’s Obedience to St. Joseph
March 20 – Fr. Lehtoranta – The Danger of Riches
March 21 – Fr. Lehtoranta – St. Athanasius & the Conversion of Jews

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
It was strange to be away for a Lenten Friday. I hope somebody made some soup. A week ago Friday I was trying to get all the way west to Baja California, near the Pacific Ocean. My early morning flight from Dayton was four hours late, however, and I only made it as far as Mexico City late that night. Whatever would we do without cell phones and Minis for rescheduling and staying in touch? La Paz is far away, but with all of our electronic gadgets the world seems almost manageable.

Of course in the supernatural world of faith, one is always at home in the Church. Fr. Hernan has just built a handsome new church of Christ the King outside of La Paz. Saturday evening I was hearing confessions and offering the long Ember Day Mass with a little sermon. The next morning we had High Mass with about 30 Confirmations. A mighty and unwonted wind blew in from somewhere as Mass started. Some saw it as demonic, but I thought it matched nicely the Pentecostal reality of Confirmation. We were going to have a nice tour of the bay in somebody’s boat, but the high waves waved us off. Still the weather was beautiful. Did you have more snow? That evening I gave a well-attended conference on how to live as Catholics in today’s world. The congregation there strikes me as enthusiastic and full of energy. Everybody belongs to the Mt. Carmel Confraternity and wears a big scapular to the weekly Saturday Mass in honor of Our Lady.

How was your St. Patrick’s Day? I hate missing our celebration, but the Irish are known for spreading the faith all over the world. How better to honor this so great saint? My day turned out to be properly international, as befits a Catholic bishop today. I offered the Mass of Ireland’s patron in Mexico, using a chalice from †Fr. Schoonbroodt, a Belgian. After a fine Mexican breakfast (papaya! It’s good for you. I had forgotten.) we headed to the airport for a flight to Mexico City. There we were met by a Chilean priest, our old friend Fr. Mardones, and by Fr. Martin Gomez of Acapulco, now Dos Rios. We had dinner at an excellent Argentinean restaurant, consuming copious quantities of meat, as is the custom in these southern countries, even in Lent! We’re one of the few countries that do keep Lent and I’m happy to get back to it.

Well, it was a good priests’ meeting, and we ended the day on our knees at Our Lady of Guadalupe. How beautiful, how young Our Lady looked to me as we clustered by the moving walkway to sing and pray and consecrate ourselves to her. I remembered all of your intentions there, as also the next day at my doctor’s checkup – Dr. Jesus, that is. He was looking quite majestic on his high throne in the newly painted and gold-leafedchurch, but for it all, rubicund and quite approachable. I know He will look after all of our sick.

We also visited a beautiful old shrine outside of Puebla to the Archangel Michael, marking his apparition there in 1631. How much we count on his protection. A young mother asked me to bless her little son, who cannot speak. She asked me what more she could do for him, and I told her to take him to the Little Doctor, and to pray there most sincerely, as He loves and blesses the children.

Really this whole trip was arranged to allow the visit to Dos Rios, Vera Cruz on St. Joseph’s Day, because he is the patron saint of the pueblo and many people will attend, taking off from work or school. We had a fullblown visit, starting with a most colorful procession with band and canopy and confetti. I got a floral wreath as well. Everybody crowds around to greet the bishop, and we set off towards the church, following a beautifully decorated floral bier of “Señor San José” and the customary boys dressed as Moors with machetes. The very simple, poor and pious population is properly proud that their bishop visits and receives their traditional Recibiemento welcome. The Novus Ordo bishop ducked out of the last one, and the small Pius X congregation never sees theirs.

After a kind of High Mass (a new generation of cantors is being broken in), we had about 40 or 50 Confirmations down the main aisle of the church, whose beauty increases as it nears completion, thanks to the truly sacrificial giving of the people. Really most edifying. I ate a little of the “marrano,” the roast pork, afterwards even though I really should not have. Salad, too. I seem to have survived. More meat finished the day (and almost finished me off ) back in Mexico City, as we left behind us the volcano of Pico de Orizaba.

Meanwhile, I understand that our St. Joseph’s Day in West Chester went very well, with 55 children in attendance, and the young Fathers conducting the recollection and celebrating the Solemn Mass. Great thanks to you who work so hard and help us to maintain our traditions and to pass the faith on to our children. How small our world is. The Mexican Fathers were talking about the role of the public schools, as well as music and TV, in robbing the children of their innocence. I’m glad we can do something to counter this, as well as bringing the very innocent little ones to Jesus for First Communion. In many places, both in Mexico and here, the devil puts up many a roadblock to the design of St. Pius X, answering the appeal of Our Savior: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.” We had eight First Communions on St. Joseph’s Day in Dos Rios. Most of the children were older, and some needed Baptism first. We look forward to our First Communions here at Pentecost this year.

Thursday marks the middle day of our Lent. Gird your loins then, and pray to do better in the last half. Friday or Wednesday Stations? The Daily Devotional? If you’re reading it prayerfully, you’ll want to get some “kneetime” in church this week, especially for Tuesday’s Annunciation Adoration. Extra Masses? Visiting the sick, praying for the dead? TV off, nightly Rosary on? It’s a long list, with endless possibilities for this, the best season of the year.

Remember Rejoicing Sunday next week, and plan to enjoy the school children’s Spring into Spring with us. St. Joseph keep you in his care,
– Bishop Dolan