March 15, 2020
Happy 3rd Sunday of Lent. Only 24 more days until Holy Thursday, when Lent officially ends as we begin the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Sacred Triduum, the holiest three days of the year for Christians. This weekend at the Sunday 10 a.m. Mass is the first Scrutiny for our catechumen and candidates in their final period of purification and enlightenment in preparation for receiving the Easter Sacraments. The three Scrutinies take place on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. The Scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the Elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good. they are celebrated in order to deliver the Elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Scrutinies complete the conversion of the Elect and deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all.
Douglas Judge is a catechumen, meaning he will be Baptized, Confirmed and receive his 1st Holy Communion all at the same Mass during the Easter Vigil- a holy triple-header! Alex Gonsalves and Mia Tiberio have both already been Baptized in other Christian denominations and seek Full Communion with the Catholic Church. They will both be Confirmed and receive their 1st Holy Communion as Catholics with Douglas and the rest of us faithful as Easter begins. Deacon Gary and Nancy Donahue and Sid Smith have been guiding and teaching Douglas, Alex and Mia on Sunday mornings after the 10 a.m. Mass in the parish library since October. They begin broadly discussing One God, Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Grace & Sin, Heaven and Hell. They progress talking about the 10 Commandments and Beatitudes, Mary and the Saints, Morality and Service. They have gotten to know Holy Cross and we have gotten to know them during these past six months. They have joined us in prayer at Mass and at social gatherings in the parish. It will be a honor and privilege to guide them as the sun sets on April 11th as we begin the Solemn Easter Vigil during which they become three of the Church’s newest Catholics and full members of Holy Cross Parish! Please keep Douglas, Alex and Mia in your Lenten prayers as they journey with us to Easter.
I hope and pray your journey to Easter is renewing and life-giving. I trust that through prayer, fasting and almsgiving you are discovering and retaining what is good and holy in your life, and, well, what is less than the Christian ideal that needs to get swept away by God’s mercy and forgiveness. Lent is our annual spiritual house cleaning. You don’t need Purell or warm soapy water to purify and cleanse your soul. You need purposeful time and focus in prayer to draw you away from daily concerns and necessary work and toward your graced relationship with Jesus. Spend the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee or tea to pray and reflect on life with God. Fast from a TV, Hulu or Netflix show and spend the time talking to or writing someone. Give away some of your time or talents or treasure to someone in need, someone who could use your attention to make their day a blessing from God working through you. We are all called by Jesus to purify our hearts and enlighten our minds during these holy days. Get rid of all that is weak, defective or sinful in your life and strengthen all that is upright, strong and good. Reject Satan’s many sly and masked temptations and find renewed strength in Christ’s power over sin as you walk humbly with God. You remain in my prayers at our parish Masses and in my personal prayer each day.
Hopefully see you at the Taunton Deanery Retreat Day this coming Saturday, March 21st at Annunciation of the Lord Parish in Taunton beginning with Mass at 10:00 a.m.
March 8, 2020
Happy 2nd Sunday of Lent! Only 31 more days until Holy Thursday when Lent officially ends in the late afternoon as we begin the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Pascal fast begins until the end of the Easter Vigil. Nothing like going from one fast to another. At least the Pascal fast is much shorter!
I hope you remembered to “spring forward” last night before you went to bed, or you just missed the Mass you were planning on attending and will be staying for the next one. We never changed the clocks when I was growing up in Indiana. The TV show times changed since we always stayed on Eastern Standard Time. I first experienced changing my watch when I was 23 at our Holy Cross Novitiate in Cascade, Colorado. Indiana finally caved 14 years ago in 2006 and began using Daylight Savings Time. My home state is on the western edge of the time zone so in June it stays light out until 10:00 p.m.!
Speaking of time, I hope you have taken some time this past week to settle into your Lenten observances. I had a couple confessions last Saturday from people who forgot it was a Lenten Friday with no meat. I confess one year I accidentally ordered a cheeseburger on a Friday early in Lent and was faced with a dilemma after I paid and had it sitting in front of me. WWJD? Jesus would not waste food! I sheepishly ate it and said a few extra prayers. Mistakes happen. Willfully knowing, ordering and eating a similar meaty meal on a Friday in Lent is another story. To help you out at least two Friday evenings this Lent, our Parish Council and the Easton Knights of Columbus are teaming up to bring us Fish Bakes on March 13th and 27th from 5-7 p.m. in the parish center. There are no presale tickets but a free will offering will be taken at the door to cover costs and the remaining monies will go to support our Parish Youth traveling to Appalachia (ASP) this summer. Stations of the Cross will follow each Fish Bake in church beginning at 7:00 p.m. Come join in this community event and help support the youth of the parish getting ready to do great service down south this summer!
Finally, I am monitoring the evolving coronavirus outbreak. In order to do our utmost to prevent spreading germs the remainder of this flu and cold season, please adhere to the following. First, it is not a sin but a work of mercy to stay home if you are feeling ill. Second, if you feel well and come to Mass, please wash your hands at home first or use hand sanitizer when arriving at church. We have purposefully taken the water out of the fonts and have suspended offering the cup until Easter. There will still be the Sign of Peace during Mass but please choose another “sign” other than the traditional handshake until further notice. Waving or reverently bowing to people are common suggestions. Please do not be offended if people do not extend their hand but instead offer another “Sign” of Peace. Lastly, please refrain from shaking the clergy’s hands on the way in and out of Mass. The last thing I, Fr. Jim or Deacon Gary want to do is become the epicenter of a spread of anything but faith, hope and love here at Holy Cross. If Bishop da Cunha directs other precautions, I will let you know immediately. Hopefully all of this will remain precautionary and not escalate.
March 1, 2020
Our personal and communal Lenten journey has begun for 2020. Our spiritual renewal during Lent is central to our lives of conversion from sin into grace as Christians. Let us challenge ourselves as this year’s Lenten journey gets underway not to let these 40 days pass by without prioritizing time each day to connect with God and to serve others through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. It is our annual intensive reflection, renewal and recommitment, all culminating in the joy and new life in the 50 days of the Easter Season.
The minimum fasting and abstinence for Lent throughout the Catholic Church worldwide is defined as:
- All adults (18 and older) are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their 60th All who are 14 years of age and older are obliged to observe the law of abstinence (no meat). All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence. Ash Wednesday is also a day of abstinence.
- There are only two prescribed days of fast: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
- On the days of fast, those bound by law are limited to a single full meal. This meal is meatless. Two other meatless meals, enough to maintain strength, may be taken according to one’s needs; however, together these two meals should not equal another full meal.
***People with medical reasons (women who are pregnant, people taking medications needing food, etc.) or with other pastoral reasons should follow their informed conscience and choose another way of honoring the Lenten fast other than food restrictions.
Other Lenten discipline described in Code #1249 in the Code of Canon Law states: “All members of the Christian faithful in their own way are bound to do penance in virtue of divine law; in order that all may be joined in common observance of penance. Penitential days are prescribed as days in which the Christian faithful in a special way pray, exercise works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their responsibilities more faithfully, especially by observing fast and abstinence.” The Season of Lent is the penitential time when we focus on fasting, prayer and almsgiving individually and as a community of faith. All of these practices are meant to be done out of love for the God who first loved and continues to love us.
Other resources to enrich your Lenten spiritual journey might include signing up for our
Lent 2020 weekly email or text message, taking home a Lenten 5-minutes with the Word booklet, fasting from something in addition to food (giving up something or adding something), consider almsgiving to one of the agencies of outreach Sunday or giving of your time, talents and treasure in any number of other ways for the poor. Attend the upcoming Taunton Deanery Mission on Saturday, March 21st from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Annunciation Church in Taunton. I will be giving a reflection talk at 11:00 a.m. Consider attending one of our parish Bible Study groups, the Spiritual Book Club or the Intercessory Prayer Group. There are also many online resources offered by Dynamic Catholic, Formed, Catholic.org, PrayerND, or onlineministries.creighton.edu. By actively participating in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, this Lent can and will be a spiritually renewing time for you and your family.
February 23, 2020
Welcome back from February Vacation to all our school families. I hope it was a time for catching up on some sleep, taking a break from the normal routine, share in some precious family time and maybe to have even traveled a bit to grandma and grandpa’s house or, yes, a little north of here where I hope they keep the snow for skiing so we don’t have to plow it here. Now it’s time to get back to school, faith formation and all of us, Lent 2020.
Lent 2020 begins this Wednesday, February 26th, Ash Wednesday. We will have four Masses with the distribution of ashes: 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. We will join 1.2 billion Catholics and another billion Christians of various denominations in a 40 day and night journey with Jesus to the holiest days of the Christian calendar: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and the glorious 50 days of the Easter Season. This is a marathon and not a sprint, a journey when the tortoise is wiser than the hare! Keep your focus on one day at a time, one week at a time, and you will be surprised how quickly it goes by and how successful you become at growing closer to Christ and to those around you. There is a lot more to Lent than simply challenging yourself to give up chocolate only to go back to eating it forty days later. It is hopefully a journey of conversion deep within making you and all of us more faithful and holy modern disciples of Jesus Christ.
To make this Lent 2020 a focused and meaningful journey individually and as a community of faith, I highly encourage and invite you to choose to join the Flocknote Group Lent 2020 for a weekly reflection via email (click the join Lent 2020 button in the Flocknote email you will receive from me tomorrow) or text “HCEaston” to 84576 and follow the link into our parish site and choose Lent 2020 and any other group that doesn’t have a lock next to it that you would like to join, and hit next to receive a weekly text. Flocknote has teamed up with Word on Fire, a highly successful and accessible digital tool for evangelization in the Church founded by Bishop Robert Barron, now an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angles, California, to bring premium spiritual enhancing content to your fingertips and hopefully ultimately into your heart. Don’t miss out on this exciting journey with other parishioners this Lent 2020. It comes with the opportunity to digitally dialogue with each other as the 40 days go by with supportive comments and clarifications to questions posted in the group’s feed. I will do my daily best to check it and do what I can to keep the conversation flowing. I am excited but also a bit nervous for this new venture. But that’s what every Lent is all about, a new and exciting journey!
Enjoy these final carnival days before Lent 2020 begins this week. Treat yourself to some Paczki (pronounced: pownch-key) from Big Y, listen to some great music from New Orleans (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wAMr3V5lN4) telling you a part of Mardi Gras history, or something that uses up the fat before the fast and puts a pep in your step before we all slow down and get serious with our Savior.
Happy “Les Jours Gras” Shrove Sunday!