2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. Three hours of Confessions remain for those who have been away from the Sacrament of Penance for a few months or years. From 5 to 6 pm on the next three Thursdays (20 and 27 March and 3 April), the door is open just for those who are reluctant to go to Confession or who have been putting it off for so long that it now seems impossible to go back. Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! The Lord Jesus offers loving-kindness and mercy, and he calls you by name to come follow him. Come to Confession and renew your friendship with the Lord Jesus.

2. This week the sacred liturgy celebrates the lives of three men of great importance to the Church. Monday is the memorial of St. Patrick (died 461), who brought Christianity to Ireland. Tuesday is the memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (died 386), who became Bishop of the Holy City in 348 and is remembered for brilliant catechetical essays and homilies on the sacred liturgy and the sacraments. And Wednesday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary, Foster Father of the Lord Jesus, and Patron of the Universal Church. One of the most praiseworthy disciplines of Lent is attending Mass each day of the week, and this week the remembrance of these three saints provides a special incentive to come to weekday Mass.

3. In 1997, NBC and the Wall Street Journal conducted a national poll on the place of religion in the lives of Americans, and that same poll was conducted again a few weeks ago. In 1997, 14% of Americans reported that religion was “not that important” in their lives, and in 2014 the number of those who gave that same answer has risen to 21%. This falling away from religion is an illustration of what is often called secularization — the trend away from a worldview formed by religious faith towards one in which religion has no place or only a marginal place, and it cuts across all segments of our society. When confronted with this trend, too many Christians begin to look for ways to make the Gospel and the Church “more attractive” by trying to change the sacred liturgy, the doctrine of the faith, our organizational forms, etc. But such a response to secularization assumes that we are offering a product in the marketplace and that to increase our market share, we just need to tweak the product line and get better advertising. To think that way is to reveal that one has not heard and understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who promised us that we would be opposed, rejected and persecuted just as he was. By our Baptism we are called to friendship with the Lord Jesus and a share in his Cross, and Christ sends us in the Great Commission to continue his work among the nations by proclaiming the Gospel, celebrating the Sacraments, and caring for the least of his brethren until the Last Day. Want to resist the trend of secularization? Invite someone to come with you to Mass. Ask a friend to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with you. Give a good book about our faith to a neighbor or colleague who is searching for … well, for something or Someone not yet known. Volunteer to serve someone in need. This is how we proclaim the Gospel. Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

Father Newman