Note from the Bishop
We ended the Christmas season on the Feast of Candlemas and have now begun the very short but important liturgical season of Septuagesima, which is the season intended by Holy Mother Church to prepare us for Lent. See the kindness of Our Lord? He knows that it is difficult for us to make the sudden shift from a festive season into an intense season of penance and prayer. In the Eastern Rite, the fast is much more strict than it is for us. So each week of Septuagesima the faithful are meant to begin abstaining from one thing that they are obliged to give up for Lent. Each week one more thing is given up until they enter into the full forty-day Lenten fast. It is a sort of “easing into penance.” While that is not obligatoy for us in the Western Church, we should begin preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually for Lent. This can be done in many different ways. First, ask the Mother of Good Counsel for her guidance in choosing the most efficacious penance for you. Perhaps you have been working on giving up a bad habit, or maybe there is a sin to which you are attached, or some virtue with which you struggle daily. Always ask Our Lady. Second, work out a plan of action. When a general goes into battle it is not enough for him to simply know that he must fight, he must have a plan of action. Again, pray to the Mother of Good Counsel, give it some serious thought, write it down. Third, choose a good book to use for spiritual reading. Fourth, don’t try to do too much all at once. Be prudent, but not prudish. It is better to take on a little bit and do it well rather than to do many things and give them up. Stick to whatever you decide to take on. Fifth, ask Our Lady to help you to do everything with and for the love of God.

The Sodality girls elected new officials at their monthly meeting last weekend. Congratulations to the newly elected! Cora Arlinghaus is the president of the Sodality, Regina Simpson the Vice President, Renee Arlinghaus the Treasurer, Abigail Lawrence the Secretary, while Claire McConnell takes care of the media department and photography. Katelyn McConnell was the Sodality’s very first president. She did a wonderful job and we are thankful for the work she put in for those two years! The meetings always look like so much fun. I came in and found the girls decorating clear plastic cups only to find out that they would put them into the oven to melt them until they became flat. The results were, I thought, so very neat! I’m not sure how to describe them other than to say that they end up as a sort of Christmas ornament.

Wednesday and Thursday were days of much work and much prayer here at St. Gertrude’s. A lot goes into preparations for Candlemas and the Winter Soup Supper and we had lots of helpers. Sr. Ulrica brought her class down to help Sr. Eulalia in the sacristy and they were happy to help get the candles ready. The children often come to the sacristy, sometimes to learn about the things kept there, sometimes to help out. I think they have now well earned the title of “Sister’s Assisters.” Many others came to help as well. We are always grateful for the help and edified by your dedication to the church. The ceremonies were splendid and it might have been one of the best processions that we’ve had. I don’t think there was a single glitch.

Fr. Lehtoranta has done another show on Catholic Family Podcast with Kevin Davis, a fellow Catholic who lives in Germany. The topic: Protestantism. If you don’t already know, Father grew up in Finland as a Lutheran and knows much about the topic. It should be most interesting to hear. If you’re interested, you can find Catholic Family Podcast on YouTube.

The young Fathers are all away this weekend, Fr. Simpson in Texas and Fr. Brueggemann in Milwaukee. Seminarian Poncho accompanied Fr. Brueggemann to St. Hugh’s. This is a good introduction for Poncho on how the missions run and what the priest does when on these trips.

There is much to report on the missions in Nigeria, but I will save all the news for later. It is my hope to get the national newsletter going again in March. Bishop Dolan had to stop doing it around the time that Fr. Cekada became ill, but now I believe it is time to restart it. So many people from all over the world have donated to the missions, so it is only fair that there be a regular update on the good that is being done by our priests and bishops abroad.

The last bit of news is that I will be going to visit Fathers Roger and Hecquard in France this week to do Confirmations in Rennes and Chambery. Chambery is only a 45 minute drive from Annecy and near to Geneva where St. Francis de Sales lived, worked and died. His relics are still there with those of St. Jane Francis de Chantal. I will take a couple of days to visit the area. It will be a bit of a rest for me, but also a good way to prepare for the Lent that this year is being dedicated to St. Francis de Sales. It would be most appreciated if you would say a prayer for a safe trip and a fruitful apostolate.

I close this note with the assurance of my prayers and send a blessing to each one of you.
– Bishop McGuire

P.S. Fr. McKenna’s birthday is on Wednesday, and his 12th anniversary on Saturday. Send him your well wishes and prayers on these occasions.