A Word From Rev. Msgr. Richard Hanneke

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dear Friends:

This is part of the homily Pope Francis delivered at Mass to mark the beginning of the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday (2014).

“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). With these insightful words of the prophet Joel, the liturgy introduces us into Lent today, indicating the conversion of the heart characteristic of this time of grace. The prophetic call is a challenge for all of us, without exception, and reminds us that conversion is not a matter reducible to outward forms or vague intentions, but engages and transforms one’s entire existence from the center of the person, from the conscience. We are invited to embark on a journey in which, in defiance of the routine, we strive to open our eyes and ears, but especially the heart, to go beyond our “little garden.”

To open oneself to God and to others: we live in an increasingly artificial world, in a culture of “doing”, [a culture] of the “useful,” in which we exclude God from our horizon without even realizing it. Lent calls us to “give ourselves a ‘shake-up,’” to remember that we are creatures, that we are not God.

We run the risk of closing ourselves to others also: we risk forgetting them, too - but only when the difficulties and sufferings of our brothers challenge us, only then we can start our journey of conversion towards Easter. It is an itinerary that includes the cross and sacrifice. Today’s Gospel shows the elements of this spiritual journey: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (cf. Mt 6,1-6.16-18). All three involve the need not to be dominated by the appearance of things: the appearance of things does not matter – nor does the value of life depend on the approval of others or on success, but from how much we have inside . . .

With its calls to conversion, Lent comes providentially to rouse us, to shake us from our torpor, from the risk of moving forward [merely] by inertia. The exhortation that the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Joel is loud and clear: "Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is wrong in us, in society, in the Church - and we need to change, to turn things around, to repent! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way!

 
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dear All,

I pray that your Lent is going well and the love of God is more and more the focus of each day. Often we say we are ‘giving up this or that’ for Lent—a good idea. Other times it may help to say, “Today, I am doing ‘this or that’ to see God more clearly” Remember He is found in the here and now.

Last week in my homily I focused on the inter-related elements of the Mass. We acknowledge our sins not in misery but in confident hope. God forgives! Then, harmoniously, we sing “Glory to God in the highest.” Praise Him! We sit and listen, shaped by the Word that is loving and life-giving. We offer gifts, ordinary bread and wine, elements of the whole of creation that become the Extraordinary Gift, Jesus Christ, given to us a hundredfold. Finally, we are told, “Go in peace, praising the God of our salvation.” We have to tell the world!

This is an extremely simple and brief summary of what we do every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. I tell you this because I have to bring to your attention a bad habit we have at Lourdes: there are TOO many coming TOO late to Mass. When I have mentioned this in the past, I have been told,“That’s just Lourdes.” Sorry—that doesn’t work. Others have told me that parking is a nightmare. That’s true. We all know it and have for decades, so plan accordingly.

Why am I saying this?

If we believe the Eucharist to be what we say, then each element is essential to the whole of the celebration. It is impossible to come flying in and be prepared to celebrate, to listen and to be transformed by this wonder of God’s love. Most importantly is the fact that arriving late is irreverent. It disrepects God! It distracts others. We can all do better.

Lent is a time to order our lives to God. Often, that means breaking bad habits with His help. For those who are chronically late for Mass, now is the perfect time to change and be serious in making the love of God the focus of your day, of each moment.

The beginning of the Mass is the gathering in. The end of the Mass is the sending forth. We need everyone present for both!

Gratefully yours, Msgr. REH

 
Sunday, February 15, 2015

 

Dear Friends,

“With its invitations to conversion, Lent comes providentially to awaken us, to rouse us from torpor, from the risk of moving forward by inertia.” —Pope Francis

Lent is upon us and offers us the opportunity to focus, intentionally, on God and His presence in our lives. We will journey with Jesus to His Cross and Resurrection—the redemptive work of Christ. As we look at what He has done for us, we also can deepen our own baptismal commitment to love and serve Him. Lent helps us to leave behind old habits, to change and live for the better.

The traditional exercises of Lent, prayer, charitable giving and fasting, are all means for us to grow and move along the path of holiness. Again, Pope Francis described Lent as “a journey on which, by defying routine, we strive to open our eyes and ears but especially to open our hearts, in order to go beyond our own backyard.” Lent is not just interior renewal but eye-opening to the presence of Jesus in the world around us especially to poor and forgotten.

Twice in Scripture, God the Father identifies Jesus, as “My beloved Son, listen to Him”—a command that I hope we take to heart during the Lenten season. Intentional prayer time brings us closer to Jesus so that we may listen. Purposely seeking out the Scripture readings for daily Mass or the Sunday readings let us hear the voice of Jesus and take His words seriously. When we hear His voice, His words have the power to change and transform our lives.

Another call of Lent is reconciliation or turning to God in our brokenness and failure to say, “I need your mercy and love.” That is the only way God’s mercy and love can get into our lives—by us saying, “Lord I need you!” It doesn’t matter when the last time was that you celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation (went to confession), what is important is that you go! To that end, during Lent the Sacrament will be offered:

·  ·  ·  

Saturdays before 5:00 p.m. Mass,
Wednesday evenings beginning at 5:30 p.m., and
Sunday, March 8, beginning at 3:00 p.m. as a special Penance Service for the parish.

Let us journey Lent together!

Msgr. REH

 

 
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