“Laetare” is this name of this fourth week of Lent. Joy at the middle of Lent? Really? The cross of Jesus invites us to remember that salvation is more than a theory, and it often has nothing to do with physical safety. It is human lives reconstructed in a new way. The dawn colors remind us that we are saved by the great love of God, manifested in the one “lifted up” to show the way to eternal life. “Barber poles” often found outside where we get our haircuts, remind me of the soothing image so precious to the Jews of the Exodus story. They are not necessarily a reference to peppermint, but an image of the snake lifted up for all to see. It became a source of healing for those bitten on their way to the Promised Land.
Many things bite us in the backside these days: our fears, our rages, prejudices, rigid opinions and “violences”—sometimes gleaned right from our religious beliefs. The scriptures for the “scrutinies,” (the prayer over those preparing for Easter sacraments) use St. John’s story of the man born blind. We are sometimes a culture and nation with “blindnesses.” My mom used to call this malady, in Iowa English, “IGNURT.” Things obscure our ability to see the truth of our lives. Those who believe in “Christ lifted up” are a great piece of divine artwork. They demonstrate being a people aware of their salvation by sharing his life and continuing his works. They are an enlightened communion who make a great blast of hope for the communities about them.
Lent moves closer to Easter. Calling all sinners. Please join us for the Lenten Penance Service at 3:30PM on Saturday before Palm Sunday. Confessions continue on Friday 11AM and Saturday 4PM. The weeks still have Thursday Adoration from 12:45PM-2PM in St. Ann Chapel and Friday 12:45PM Stations of the Cross after the Noon Mass. Plan on joining us for Holy Week. St. Mary’s shines during the solemn and beautiful liturgies of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. Opportunities for volunteer service and charitable giving abound. We are still looking for people to answer our door during the week and well as folks with building skills. The Rice Bowls will be collected for Catholic Relief Services on Palm Sunday and the St. Vincent de Paul Frig magnet suggests canned goods for those who need food assistance in the central region of Phoenix. Stop and listen to our “Angelus” Bells of St. Mary’s. They ring three times a day 6AM, Noon and 6PM calling out to the mid-town area that salvation is at hand. It’s at eye level for all to see.
A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM