Bulletin (April 1, 2000)
I gave up April Fool tricks about twenty years ago. I had prepared an elaborate one for Fr. Jim Coyne with whom I lived at St. Mary’s rectory in Seattle. As I walked out the room to execute the trick, he said to me, “Phil, your shoe laces are untied.” Of course, I looked down – and he had gotten the best of me.
It seems like we spend much of our lives trying to outdo some other person. In today’s Gospel the scribes and Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus (Jn 8:6). They failed miserably for two reasons. First they focused so much on the other person’s failing, they blinded themselves to their own. But most important, Jesus knew what was in their hearts. (Mk 2:8, Jn 2:25)
There is a lesson for us here. Trying to outwit another human being can easily backfire, but attempting to fool Jesus is totally reckless. He knows what is in our hearts. During these final two weeks of Lent, I encourage you to come before Jesus as you are. Jesus is waiting, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. As you know we now have round the clock exposition in the Ailbe House chapel.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose Missionary Sisters spend an hour each day before the Blessed Sacrament, had this to say about prayer:
· Prayer makes your heart bigger, until it is capable of containing the gift of God Himself.
· Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our hearts.
Another way to come before Jesus is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Thursday, April 5, Fr. Ramon Velasco and I will be available for confessions beginning at 4 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (or until all are heard) there will be extra confessors. I encourage you to take advantage of this beautiful opportunity.
Next Sunday we begin Holy Week. At all Masses (Saturday evening as well as Sunday morning) we will have the distribution and blessing of Palms and the reading of the Passion according to St. Luke. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, there will be Mass at 8:30 a.m. On Wednesday evening we will celebrate the regular 6 p.m. English Mass and 7 p.m. Spanish Mass. The Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper begins at 7 p.m. On Good Friday the English service begins at 6 p.m. and the Spanish at 8 p.m. The climax of Holy Week, indeed the entire liturgical year, is the celebration of the Easter Vigil, 9 p.m. on April 14. I encourage you to attend these services, which not only mark the central events of human history, but also make them present in each of our lives.
I have been heartened that so many have participated in Stations of the Cross and other devotions of Lent. On Good Friday our school children will perform a “Living Stations” at 10:45 a.m. Our Filipino community will have a most special Holy Week devotion. Next Saturday, April 7, beginning at 6 a.m. they will have a continuous reading of the Gospel in the Ailbe House library. The following Saturday, our Hispanic community, will prepare the church for Condolencias a la Virgen María (Condolences to the Virgin Mary) which can be paid anytime between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. There will be one final opportunity for Lenten confessions that Saturday afternoon (April 14) from 3 to 5 p.m.
Some of my priest friends have commented one an interesting phenomenon. There seems to be an increased attendance at Mass and other devotions this Lent. Perhaps the Ash Wednesday earthquake gave us a reminder that this world does not provide real security, let alone a firm foundation. Perhaps all the economic uncertainty makes people realize financial plans will not save us. Whatever it is, many are seeking a secure foundation on which to build their lives and families. There is only one. In today’s Gospel we hear him say, “Neither do I condemn you.” Then those words that indicate a promise of his grace, “Go, and do not sin again.” (Jn 8:11)
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