Having already begun the season of Lent, we once again turn our focus to doing acts of penance in the forms of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These acts are good for us by their very nature as they serve a twofold purpose. Firstly, we can offer these actions to Jesus as a way of making reparation for past sins. Secondly, and equally important, we perform these penitential acts as a way to retrain ourselves in recognizing and turning away from future temptations. By growing in the habit of denying ourselves something pleasing, or by taking on a practice that we do not enjoy, we are reminding ourselves that our bodily passions/appetites do not have to govern our choices. In this way, when sinful temptations present themselves, our intellect can identify them for what they are and our willpower will be strong enough to resist whatever sinful inclination is presenting itself.
To put it another way, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are all ways by which we do spiritual battle, defending ourselves from the temptations the devil throws at us, and actively pursuing the practical means by which we please Christ. This language of spiritual battle is what we heard in the Collect (opening prayer) at the Ash Wednesday Masses: “Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with the weapons of self-restraint.”
If you do not like doing penance, then take courage- no one does! But for this very reason it is very beneficial for us. Although comfort certainly has its proper place in this life, too much of it can also make us complacent or even lax spiritually. Know of my prayers for all of you, that your Lenten practices will bear much fruit in helping to turn away from sin and to follow Christ all the more wholeheartedly!
A few other updates:
In my last bulletin article, I mentioned that I would update everyone with the final numbers for the Christmas collection because Christmas envelopes continued to trickle in throughout January. We budgeted $14,000 for this collection and the total amount received was $13,574 = $426 below budget. Although it certainly would have been nice to have actually hit our budgeted amount, I still think this is much better than anticipated, especially considering the physical attendance at the Christmas Masses was much less than expected. Thank you to everyone who contributed, and thank you all for your continued prayers for our parish.
For our collection for the January 1 Holy Day, Mary Mother of God (which was not an obligation this year due to COVID), we budgeted $2,000. The total amount received was $1,552 = $448 below budget.
Regarding our usual second collections, thank you to those who have continued to support them during the pandemic! As you remember, we usually followed a schedule each month for these second collections: the first weekend of the month went toward the Missions Fund, the remaining weekends of the month were for the Building and Maintenance Fund, and any Fifth Sunday was set aside to support our Seminarian Fund. Moving forward, we would like to follow this schedule each month for unspecified second collection donations. Of course, you can always submit a donation specifically for one of our second collection funds, but please indicate which fund you would like your donation to go into. If you do not indicate which fund, your second collection donations will be designated according to the monthly schedule listed above. Please contact Dianne at the parish office if you have any questions.
A quick note on sanitizing our pews. Up to now, everyone has been doing a pretty good job of wiping our pews down after Masses. Please do not be alarmed if you notice that we run out of sanitizing wipes for the pews in the coming weeks. In an attempt to save the finish on the pews, and to save time in sanitizing them, we will be trying to spray them down with Lysol spray after Masses. We have volunteer crews to take care of this, which means that you will not have to do anything to the pews when Mass has concluded. We will let you know if anything changes on this.