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First Sunday of Lent—March 10, 2019

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

And so it has begun! The forty days of Lent, this holy season, began this past Wednesday as we marked ourselves with ashes! During my homily on Ash Wednesday I said that the message of Nike, Just do it, is our message for Lent.

If you aren’t the person you want to be, and want to change…just do it.

If you are far from God and yearn to be closer…just do it.

If you’ve been putting off confession, out of fear or shame or simple procrastination…just do it.

Just do it. We sinners come together every year on Ash Wednesday to declare our hopes and strengthen our resolve—and we leave marked. The marks on our brow are like billboards—advertisements of who we are, what we are. The ashes tell the world: we are works in progress. We are God’s renovation project. So, like fixer uppers, we are covered in dust—the dust of what we are, the dust of what we will become.

These marks also proclaim exactly who we are. We are Christians. We have been claimed by Christ. And for that reason, we have vowed to honor this season leading up to the holiest week on our calendar. We will pray. We will fast. We will give.

Want to be challenged this Lent? Give up pride. Give up jealousy or judging. Give up fighting on Facebook. Give up having to have the last word. Give up nursing old grudges or picking at old wounds. But don’t just give up something, give something. Give a hand for someone who needs it. Give attention to someone who is ignored. Give a prayer for someone who has hurt you. Give and forgive. Give like Jesus gave.

We talk about giving alms during Lent and we are called to remember in a special way those in need. But we can’t forget that the word “alms” comes from a Greek word that means “mercy.” If we give nothing else, we need to give mercy, compassion, and love.

This Lent resolve to begin anew. And: Just do it!

So, how is it going so far? Did you give something up? Did you take on something extra like an act of kindness? How are you doing with your Lenten practice? Are you truly doing something to make this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving meaningful in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you seeking ways to Encounter Christ, to renew, reflect, respond and repent?

As one of the Prefaces we use at the altar in Lent says so beautifully, “for you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world so to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.” Lent, then, is a time for us to get back on the right path. A time for us to abstain from those things that pull us away from God and His peace and mercy, and to practice those which bring us to experience His presence in our lives. That is why we focus so much in these six weeks of Lent on the practices of increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three practices, or Lenten disciplines, call us to renew our discipleship in Christ, to truly Encounter Christ.

We pray, we fast, and we give because we follow Christ who loved us so much that He gave His own life so that we might share in Eternal Life. Lent, ultimately, is all about fasting and feasting, disciplining ourselves so that we can experience life in its fullness.

If you haven’t chosen something to fast from, here is a list of practical every day things to fast from and corresponding things to feast on. I have shared this in the past but was asked recently to give this list to someone so thought it was worth sharing again:

Fast from complaining and feast on appreciation Fast from judging others and feast on Christ within others Fast from idle gossip and feast on purposeful silence Fast from anger and feast on forgiveness Fast from discouragement and feast on hope Fast from worry and feast on trusting God Fast from unrelenting pressures and feast on unceasing prayer Fast from emphasizing the differences and feast on the unity of life Fast from thoughts of illness and feast on the healing power of God

Fast from a sour face and feast on smiles Fast from growling and feast on laughing Fast from depression and feast on joy!

This list strikes a nerve with all of us because when we read it we realize there is more we can do to become the people God is calling us to be. We realize quickly that we are indeed works in progress. We waste so much energy on complaining, judging, gossip, anger, and all these other things listed above that would be better spent on becoming people of appreciation, forgiveness, hope, and joy! I am going to pick one from above and work on it this week in my own life, will you?

Lenten Suppers have begun…join us for an opportunity to get to know one another and grow together in faith as we come together for Friday Lenten Supper, great conversation, and some fun activities for the kids. Supper is served from 5-7 PM, cost is only $10 per adult, $5 per child and senior citizen, and a $25 max per family. The menu includes pasta with sauce, salad, bread, a variety of soups each week, beverages and a weekly special. Then, following the Lenten Supper, come and pray the Stations of the Cross with us in Saint Bridget Church at 7 PM.

Don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming Lenten Evening of Reflection for ALL parishioners this COMING TUESDAY, MARCH 12th. We will begin with a Pasta Dinner at 5:30 pm cooked by our Cheshire Knights of Columbus, Sante Fe Council, which will be followed by presentations and age-appropriate activities for adults and children! There will be an adult presentation by Father José Mercado, Pastor of Saint John XXIII Parish in West Haven, as well as presentations and age-appropriate activities for our young parishioners. At the end of the evening we will come back together as one large group to listen to what each group learned and to have a closing activity. We really hope you will come and join us for this spiritual evening! Flyers were in last weekend’s bulletin and are on the tables at all the doors this weekend!

In whatever we do during this Season of Lent, let us strive above all to live holy lives as we make this journey with the Lord. May our Lenten journey be holy, prayerful, and fruitful. A Blessed Lent to one and all!

HAPPIEST CONGRATULATIONS to Sandra Thomas who on March 31st will be presented the Saint Joseph Archdiocesan Medal of Appreciation at the Cathedral for her many years of service to our parish family. This medal goes to a person, or married couple, who has given particular devotion and service to the parish over many years. Sandra has certainly done that. She has given of her time, her talent, and her treasure in a variety of ways to our parish family and for that we thank her and are pleased to recognize her with this Medal of Appreciation.

Sandi has been an active member of our parish family for many years. She is always ready and willing to help out when called upon in any capacity. Sandi is a true asset to our parish family.

Sandi has served and continues to serve in our parish office anytime assistance is needed whether helping to answer the telephones, assisting parishioners who come to the door, or stuffing the bulletins with all sorts of flyers. She helps to coordinate our new monthly coffee-and at the Saint Bridget Campus. She knits baby blankets for those being baptized through our Ministry of Praying Hands. Sandi also assists at our annual parish picnic. She is one of those “go to” people you know you can call on to help and can trust to get the job done right.

Sandi is a superb candidate for this Medal of Appreciation given her outstanding devotion to our parish, her desire to continually grow in her faith, her constant willingness to help out, and her years of service to our parish family and her fellow parishioners. I wish to publicly thank Sandi for the many ways she contributes to the vibrancy of our parish family. Please join me in congratulating Sandi on this honor and thanking her for her years of service to our parish family!!!

ATTENTION all who have Celiac Disease and need one of our Low Gluten Hosts…the process for distribution of these hosts will now change at the Saint Bridget Church Campus. At every Mass, either Tony Ginnetti, our Sacristan, or another Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion will automatically be standing in front of the Pulpit at Communion time ONLY for distribution of these low-gluten hosts. There is no longer a need to stop in the sacristy before Mass to let us know you are here. Simply sit in a place so that you can get to this designated person during Communion time. Please note the process will not change at Saint Thomas Becket Church where these are distributed by the priest celebrant of the Mass. It is important to note that these special hosts come from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and on the package it clearly states that the ingredients are Wheat starch, water, and less than 0.01% of gluten content.

As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.

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