Dear Friends in Christ,
Lent is certainly a time of renewal for our spiritual lives, but how does that manifest itself this year, 2017? God seeks us always, but finds us only if we respond. God finds us at different places in our human journey every holy season of Lent. We have celebrated God-among-us, Jesus. Jesus, the perfect image of the human divine encounter – prayer, fasting, giving of self to those in need of feeding, healing, teaching, presence. Pope Francis encourages us to develop a “culture of encounter” and to reflect on that in the dynamic of our own lives. As a faith community, we are deeply committed to this search for encounter with the Divine presence in the very ordinary days of our ordinary lives.
As we enter in to this Lenten season, God awaits, with enduring hope, our response to our encounter with Love. We will encounter Jesus in our private prayer time, but there are opportunities for encountering the unique presence of God in our community of faith through the Stations of the Cross every Friday (followed by the Knights of Columbus fish dinner), Eucharistic Adoration each Sunday, 24 Hours for the Lord, the Procession of the Cross on Good Friday, and daily Mass. In each of these places we should be joyfully anticipating the unique encounter with another person in the graced mystery of giving and receiving Christ.
Awakened to this we are aware of the ways we may have tried to journey alone, rejecting or missing the invitation to encounter another. Fear, indifference, busyness, judgement, carelessness and many other signs point to our brokenness, and at the same time to God’s ever present forgiveness. We are invited to this encounter through the sacrament of Reconciliation individually or at St. John’s parish reconciliation service April 9. As the wellspring of our encounters with Christ deepen and the desire to respond spills over, we “see” ways to be compassionate; healing and feeding neighbors near and far.
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, gives us a blueprint for an “integral ecology” of caring for the social and environmental needs of our earth. How might we live more simply, fasting from habits that compromise the environment and human dignity? There will be weekly reflections available at the Information desk as we revisit Lent 4.2 and Pax Christi Church will offer a study of the encyclical starting in March.
Our interconnectedness, clear in our scriptures and traditions, invites us to enter into the suffering of others as they are our own. We can share our food with the hungry in our own community through Minnesota Foodshare/Channel One Foodshelf, from a heart of abundance we give! We encounter the joy of life and needs of people in other countries through our participation in the many aspects of Catholic Relief Services “Rice Bowl”. We meet Christ in the faces of our neighbors that come to St John’s every day and are served through the Charity Fund collection and we respond to many needs with special collections during Lent. Do we take time to hear the stories of people in our community? Watch the Bulletin, our website, Facebook, the city wide opportunities for Lent. There are so many ways to reach out from the Love we encounter.
Fearlessly open to the Mystery, where will you encounter Christ this Lent?
Director of Social Action