Bottom line: We need Lent. We need cleansing and healing. We need Jesus.
I'm happy to be back with you after three weeks in Peru - and then a quarantine when I returned. I did get to spend some time with the Mary Bloom Center children. They are grateful for your prayer and support. It enables them to have a tutoring program which has been vital during this pandemic.
The pandemic has caused a lot of suffering to our children. At the Mary Bloom Center I had a conversation with a girl whose dad died in November - not of Covid, but a different illness. Her dad's death was terrible, she said, but things were worse because they weren't allowed to give hugs. It's like we've become lepers to each other.
Our children are hurting. And we all are to some degree. We can identify with today's Psalm: "Lord, I turn to you in time of trouble."
We know when we turn to Jesus, he hears us - like in the Gospel today: "If you wish, (Jesus), you can make me clean." And Jesus says, "I will do it. Be made clean."
This Wednesday we have a great opportunity. We begin Lent with imposition of ashes. Ash Wednesday will be a little different this year. You may have heard that we will sprinkle ashes over each person's head. We want to make sure everyone has opportunity to receive ashes. We will distribute ashes after as well as during Mass.
Let's make a great beginning of Lent 2021. We need Lent. We need cleansing and healing. We need Jesus.
This need for Jesus also relates to Valentine's Day. At the end of Mass I will give a blessing for those who have anniversary of matrimony during February. Now, I invite all couples to renew their matrimony vows:
Dear Married Couples: On the day of your wedding, the bride wore a beautiful dress, symbol of the baptismal garment. The husband asked for grace to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, who willingly offered his life to protect and sustain her. Today you wish to renew your vows in the presence of your children and friends. Before you do so, I ask you first to join this congregation in re-affirming your baptismal promises:
Do you reject Satan? R. I do.
And all his works? R. I do.
And all his empty promises? R. I do.
Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? R. I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? R. I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? R. I do.
And now, dear husbands, please take your wife's hand. (If your spouse is at a distance, please put your hand over your heart) I ask you: Do you renew your marriage vows to your wife, do you promise to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor her all the days of your life? R. I do.
Dear wives: Do you renew your marriage vows to your husband, do you promise to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor him all the days of your life? R. I do.
Now let us turn to Lord, as we pray for these married couples and for all of our needs:
Celebrant: In the tender plan of His providence, God our almighty Father has given married love, its faithfulness and its fruitfulness, a special significance in the history of salvation. Let us therefore call upon Him saying: Lord hear our prayer.
For our Holy Father, our bishops and all priest and religious, that they may be faithful in their call to fidelity and service, let us pray to the Lord.
For all married couples, that God give them comfort and strength in each other and joy in their children, let us pray to the Lord.
For all those preparing for marriage, that God guide them to a deep appreciation of this Sacrament, let us pray to the Lord.
For widows and widowers, that God may comfort them with compassion, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who suffer the pain of a troubled marriage, separation or divorce, that God guide them into a future filled with hope, let us pray to the Lord.
For a greater respect for the dignity of marriage and family in our nation and society, let us pray to the Lord.
For all our deceased family members and those of our parish who have died in faith, let us pray to the Lord.
Celebrant (with hands outstretched):
Almighty and eternal God, you have so exalted the unbreakable bond of marriage that it has become the sacramental sign of your Son's union with the Church as His spouse. Look with favor on these married couples, whom you have united in marriage, as they ask for your help and the protection of the Virgin Mary. They pray that in good times and in bad they will grow in love for each other; that they will resolve to be of one heart in the bond of peace. Lord, in their struggles let them rejoice that you are near to help them; in their needs let them know that you are there to rescue them; in their joys let them see that you are the source and completion of every happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN
Spanish Version (Word document)
From the Archives (Sixth Sunday, Year B)
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru