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Lent II

St. Francis of Assisi, The Patron for Our Lent this Year

Daily Sermons
February 24 – Bp. Dolan – St. Matthias: Apostle, First Franciscan
February 25 – Fr. Lehtoranta – What Father Does, Is Always Right
February 26 – Bp. Dolan – The Foodie Mass of Lent
February 27 am – Bp. Dolan – Waiting
February 27 pm – Bp. Dolan – St. Francis’ Way of the Cross

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Wednesday’s Spring Ember Day dawned sunny and bright. The birds chirped away, the snows slowly melted. The Cardinal in my garden, when not knocking his scarlet head against the door, sat in a nearby tree and sang, faithful to his Vespers every day at dusk. I haven’t wanted to tell the cats, but bunnies are about, out foraging in the predawn darkness, dark silhouettes against the snow. There was even a winter mouse, tiny and black, scampering over a snow bank, which Caravaggio, with admirable detachment, observed undisturbed.

In a word, nature is enacting the mysteries of Spring, but the weather is confused still, and cold. Now, why is this fitting for Lent? Because all of creation is bound under sin, and Our Saviour these days goes to struggle against the darkness and cold of Satan’s sway. The conflict, the confusion of things is resolved only by the Passion and Death of the Redeemer. He goes to the cross and dies as a slave, down to the ground, descends into Hell, but when He rises the third day order is restored, normalcy returns.

You see this even in the sacred liturgy. Vespers, the Church’s evening prayer, is sung early on fasting days, at noon, a symbol of the old way of fasting all day from all food, until evening. Older altar boys, who usually would know nothing of such recondite rubrics, join us in the Latin psalms and hymns, and chirp along with the clergy in Latin. Christians get up early to pray, bypass favorite founds and treats, come to church even when it’s not Sunday, perhaps even twice on Sunday—what a thought—for Vespers, as we did for centuries until the car was introduced, paradoxically making going to church easier, which meant that people didn’t any more, and certainly not twice. More confusion.

You see this in our worship most of all in Holy Week. The altar is stripped and bare, bishops bow to wash the feet of boys and men who stand for the poor, and receive a coin gratefully with a kiss. We bury Our Lord on Thursday, and raise Him on Friday, and then celebrate His Resurrection on Saturday at its vigil. Day becomes night, and mourning joy. All is confused, a kind of ritualized chaos, as in the dark of Tenebrae’s conclusion with a whispered prayer and crashing noise.

But with Easter things get back to normal, Vespers and church and probably even the weather, for Our Lord will have won the battle, and subjected sin under His still pierced feet. In the meantime, ours it is to struggle and work and pray. Come to church. Do stations, or a daily Mass. Come to Holy Communion for reparation this weekend, and to nighttime adoration. Don’t let the weather get you down, or the daily grind consume you and extinguish the Lenten flame. It’s normal to experience some “Lenten grumpies” at the start of this season, but pray, read something good, stay with the Passion of Our Lord and ask St. Francis for help.

Today we start St. Joseph’s month, and what a help is he! Truly “our helper and protector,” as the Church sings. Ask him to help you use well each one of these forty days. Go to him. Ite ad Joseph. Don’t forget a prayer for Wales today for St. David. He’s a good Lenten saint. He led his monks in working and praying fiercely, as in combating the occasion of sin, all while going totally vegan, without even short beer to cheer them. Thus he is called “the waterman.” Leeks and daffodils are his symbols. Have a great March. Put the special Lenten calendar on the fridge and follow through with us.

Doris Jeanne Campbell, who came here so faithfully for so long, the little old lady in the big old Cadillac, is dying in an Indianapolis nursing home. Fr. McGuire went to see her last week, as well as to bring the Sacraments to Mary Black (did you enjoy the Common Core article? It really got around.) Her son JT needs our prayers, a young man seriously ill with cancer. Fr. McKenna, not one to let grass grow beneath his feet, went up to Cleveland to see our prisoner, Joseph Murphy. He was unable to bring him Holy Communion however, due to a flurry of new rules for visits even in a minimum security prison. No one, nothing is allowed in, not even Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. He’s off now, Father is, for another week in the frozen north.

I joked with Fr. Lehtoranta that the McFathers are stealing Heaven from us. For this is what Our Lord in last Monday’s Lenten Gospel promises those who visit the sick or imprisoned. Nothing about teaching, preaching, or writing bulletins, however! Perhaps in another place… But wasn’t last Sunday’s terrible weather an occasion for severe edification? Surely your determined sacrifices to make it to church have their own reward. What stories I heard of digging out and hours of Saturday shoveling, Sunday striving against the ice and snow and snow plows. A winch even figures in one family’s tale of getting the van out for the church trip. Beats a donkey, though. This is all very inspiring, as also surely the holy desires and longing for Mass of those who could not come of late. Don’t forget those envelopes. The heating bills will be horrendous.

And wouldn’t you know, to increase the general merit, that the webcasting was again on the fritz, even though we’ve invested in a new system? And the parking lot, all plowed and salted, succumbed to the unforeseen Saturday afternoon snow, even though by Sunday Vespers the man had another go and cleared everything up nicely. In all of this, God’s Holy Will be done.

Gino has been putting up speakers for the new organ which should arrive this week. We are looking forward to the new instrument, and do thank all who helped pay for this project. The old organ really is old, and slowly dying. God has blessed us with talented and up and coming young organists at St. Gertrude. This should encourage them, and get more glory for God in beautiful music. And a contented Fr. Cekada will soon be able to blast away once more at the console, shaking the rafters with the praise of God.

The beasts have returned to our walls. Poor devils, I’m sure the cold drove them to it, and after all, as in next Sunday’s Gospel, they found the place “swept and garnished.” Who could resist? Maybe a kind soul will bait the traps again and bear away the little invaders.

May St. Joseph work with St. Francis to give you the best month of March ever, and you work with all your strength to make it the best Lent ever!
—Bishop Dolan