1st Sunday of Lent
From the Pastor’s Desk
February 26, 2023
“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the means to open us up to potential growth by cooperating with God’s grace at work. Still, sometimes these first days of Lent can seem arduous with the expectations to increase in some areas of spiritual life, like praying or giving more generously and retracting in others, such as giving up our favorite foods or forms of entertainment. That’s why at the beginning of Lent, we should approach these practices with the right mindset and cultivate an interior desire to gain freedom by intentionally offering our lives to the Lord.
In addition, we should enter into Lent wanting to better realize our place as members of the Body of Christ. In his pastoral letters Light Brightly Visible (https://www.archbalt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ALightBrightlyVisible_PastoralLetter_FNL_Web.pdf) in 2015 and Light Brightly Visible 2.0 (https://www.archbalt.org/a-light-brightly-visible-2-0/) in 2021, Archbishop Lori challenges us by focusing on 6 core priorities: liturgy, welcome, encounter, accompaniment, sending, and mission support.
Each week in Lent, I’ll utilize my letter to highlight these priorities to spark dialogue and encourage brainstorming for how the parish can continue to grow and support our mission to bring God’s love out to Ellicott City, Maryland, and beyond.
So let’s begin by exploring the liturgy. In the celebration of the Mass, we have the extraordinary privilege of encountering Jesus when humble bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit with the agency of the priest. Our role in this worship of thanksgiving is to engage by way of full, conscious, and active participation. Let’s talk about that. How do we prepare to receive Christ? Do we regularly receive, or are we even open to receiving, the Sacrament of Reconciliation (https://olphparish.org/lent-2023/#lentconfessions)? Do we read and pray over the Sunday readings (bible.usccb.org) in advance to become more attentive to the proclamation of the Scriptures when we get to Mass?
Are we trying our best to enter church well-rested and ready to worship? Also, are we willing to physically choose a location at Mass best suited to limit distractions, and to that end, are we respectful not to be a cause of distraction for those worshipping with us? And finally, are we willing to answer our Lord’s call to serve by becoming a member of the Mass minister team here at OLPH? As a parish, we need to grow a group of committed parishioners as ministers of hospitality, altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, AV ministry, music ministry, and sacristans. To sign up or learn more about the other liturgical ministries, visit olphparish.org/mass-ministry. And for the creative-minded folks, consider learning more about the team that decorates our sacred spaces by responding online or clicking “Join Our Decorating Team” at olphparish.org/lent-2023.
It’s good to remember that the power of the Mass doesn’t end at its conclusion. With this in mind, let’s ask ourselves, after Mass, are we sensitive to how the Lord tries to work in our lives once we walk out the Church doors? To that goal, do we engage in daily prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God? Have we experienced adoration in our Chapel (https://olphparish.org/adoration-chapel/) by committing one hour to pray with and for our parish while expanding our love for Christ? The next time you pray, please take a few of these prompts around the liturgy to God and ask how He needs you to grow in participation in the Mass and engagement with Christ in the Eucharist. Then with the Holy Spirit’s assistance, aim to incorporate these takeaways to deepen your Lenten journey. I’ll be praying for you when you do; I’d ask that you pray for me in return.