Last week Fr Val, the priest who works with the “untouchables” in Gingee, South India, sent me an email. He informed me that this Sunday (March 22nd) all the people at his center are praying and fasting the whole day for us. He asked me whether I had any special intentions that they could pray for. I am requesting prayers for each and every family in our parish, each and every individual. What a beautiful gift they are giving us!
Last year we offered them the fruits of our Lenten sacrifice and as a result, they are getting a building that they can call home. Denied of their basic human rights for centuries, these people are finally becoming aware of their own dignity. Now they have a place where they can gather and feel strong together. All this came to pass because of what we did for them. Now they are repaying us. We gave them a material gift and now they are reciprocating with a spiritual gift, even more valuable.
This is what “the communion of saints” means. When the apostle Paul established churches in Greece and Turkey, he encouraged them to support one another. They were united through the sacraments, prayer and acts of charity. In the same way we have established this bond with people we probably will never meet on this earth. What bonds us together is our faith in Christ the Lord.
The season of Lent which the Church gives us every year is meant to strengthen these bonds. Ultimately we reach out to those in need because we listen to the invitation of Jesus who challenged us to love one another. However, we need to remind ourselves constantly that all that we do during Lent should draw us closer to Jesus. This season should enable us to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
In order to benefit more fully from our Lenten discipline, we are offered a unique opportunity this year. We will have our parish mission which will start this weekend. We are pleased to welcome Friar Johnpaul Cafiero, a well-known and much-appreciated preacher of parish missions and retreats. For the last several years he has been conducting the retreat for our confirmation candidates. He has a colorful background.
Friar Johnpaul Cafiero, OFM is a Franciscan Priest of the Sacred Heart Province of Chicago/St.Louis. Born and raised in the New York Metro area, Friar Johnpaul is the oldest of an ltalian/Polish Catholic family. He is a former police officer who has worked as a counselor and chaplain at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago. His work has included counseling with gang members and their families while working closely with the police gang-crimes Unit of the Chicago Police Department. Coming from an alcoholic family himself, Friar Johnpaul has worked extensively with Adult Children of Alcoholics both in private therapy and in the 12 Step Programs.
As a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, Friar Johnpaul loves the poor and the outcast, and that love is only surpassed by his love of Scripture. This comes through his many speaking and preaching engagements. Friar Johnpaul has lectured and preached internationally. The theme of his mission is “No greater love” which will reflect on the Last Seven Words of Jesus. He will preach at all Masses this weekend so that enthralled by his eloquence, we will be drawn to the three nights of the mission.
The mission is a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth. I hope and pray that many of us will attend. Come to some or all of the evenings. You will be glad you did. Please keep the mission in your prayers because it is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...