Voices of Faith

The First Sunday of Lent

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Dear Friends:

We embarked on our Lenten journey with the call to walk more closely with Jesus. “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” one of the two exhortations used when ashes were imparted on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, reminds us that we are always turning over a new leaf and are continually trying to be close to the Lord. Alternatively, you may have heard “Remember that you are dust and to dust, you shall return.” This sounds more ominous at first, but it is meant to be a reminder of what is truly important for us… we belong to God, and we depend on God alone because left to our own devices there is no future for us.

Jesus’ time in the desert was for him a time of communion and clarity. He was at prayer and very much in communion with his Father, and through that time spent in conversation, he had a clear sense of vision of his identity and his mission. As he faced temptation, he KNEW who he was and what he was called to do. In this, the desert becomes a metaphor for our experience of Lent. We don’t literally go into isolation or to the desert, but we do simplify things and “starve” ourselves— in the sense that we cut out some excess or give up what we don’t really need—so as to see more clearly who we are in light of God. Lent is a time of communion with God because of our commitment to prayer, of lifting up our needs and offering our lives (perhaps at daily Mass, time for quiet prayer, or the Stations of the Cross). In all of this, we become more motivated to live as Jesus calls us to live.

I am grateful to all who have made a commitment to the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries. We are just over 50% of the way to reaching last year’s total. If you haven’t yet made your commitment, make this Lent a time to offer your charitable gift to the Appeal as a means of supporting a variety of charitable needs throughout the Archdiocese and here at St. Joseph. Even a small gift is an offering to God, and every gift helps bless the life of someone in need.

Lent’s historical roots were in the final period of reflection and prayer for those preparing for baptism at Easter. We are blessed with the number of candidates for baptism and reception into the full communion of the Church this Easter. They seek our support and prayers in these final weeks of their preparation, and during this time there will be several opportunities for us to express that support in our prayer during the scrutinies, which will take place on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. We look forward to celebrating with them— and welcoming them to the Church— at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday!

God’s peace,

Fr. Rick