Sunday, March 5, 2017
In case you ever wondered what 7 a.m. mass is like during the weekdays, it’s very simple. Most days, there is a small (perhaps 20 people or so) but faithful group of men and women who start their day at Old St. Pat’s celebrating the Eucharist. I’m grateful for this band of disciples and for their fidelity to their daily prayer for themselves, their families, the world, and for all of us. This past Wednesday, being Ash Wednesday, brought a huge amount of people who came early for the 7 a.m. mass to receive their ashes and to inaugurate Lent, 2017. Thank you to all who started this sacred season with us by coming to Old St. Pat’s all throughout the day and to all of our generous members who stayed in church for many hours on Wednesday sharing the mark of ashes with all who entered. I thought Ash Wednesday was a great beginning to what I hope will be a renewing and inspiring season for everyone.
The very next day, Thursday however brought a lot of the same. Though we anticipated more people to join us, unfortunately we were back to the same 20 people who attend almost each day. One of the “regulars” came up to me after the mass on Thursday and made the statement I expected to hear from him, “Where is everyone? We had such a great mass yesterday with so many people and besides, it’s Lent!” he said in frustration.
I understood his disappointment. I too thought more folks would join us, as our numbers usually increase during the special season of Lent. Perhaps this week will bring some more.
I’m not writing this to lament or to whine. That’s not an effective approach. But I am writing to all of you by way of continued invitation. One angle I took on Ash Wednesday in the homily was suggesting that Lent is God’s time to interrupt us. Mindful that we get comfortable in our routines and we become victim to complacency and sameness, I think Lent is God’s way of shaking things up a bit and challenging us to live and do things a little differently in order to grow and mature as disciples and people of faith. Through the church’s rituals, our clean foreheads were “interrupted” and violated by a smudge of ashes this past Wednesday, the mark of saying “Yes, I’m IN” for the challenge of Lent.
Chances are you’re reading this column in the hard copy because you’re here today at Old St. Pat’s, for which I (and especially the Risen Lord) am always happy and grateful. We are not church without you. As we head deeper into Lent and likewise into March and April, could I ask you to do two things? First, if your schedule allows, would you please consider joining us for some of the upcoming events happening under the sponsorship of Old St. Pat’s and under the banner of doing things differently for yourselves this Lent? Next weekend we celebrate not only our patron St. Patrick, but also the gift of our ancestors in faith who created this church community many years ago. If you’ve never been to the liturgies on Saturday or Sunday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, do so. They are festive and joyful. If you’ve never been to the Siamsa Na nGael concert at Symphony Center, the tickets are reasonable and you’ll enjoy a wonderful night of story, song, and dance inspired by the Celts.
Likewise, make your Lent different and meaningful. Interrupt your normal routines. Mark your calendars and make arrangements to attend some (or ALL!) of the Wednesday night prayer services and speakers, starting this Wednesday March 8 with timone davis, an inspiring woman of faith (*timone uses lower case letters in spelling her name to indicate her decrease as God increases within her.
Look through this publication for a very significant moment to Fast on March 21 into March 22 (we will have more information and resources on that for you next week), the Seven Last Words of Christ on March 24, the chance to be forgiven and healed on April 5 with our Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Fish Fry on April 7. I don’t mean to be repetitive with other announcements captured in this Crossroads Bulletin ,but I do believe, from a pastor’s perspective, that I’m called to be a cheerleader for all of us.
The second request I would make is be an “inviter”. You’re here today creating the experience of church. Could I encourage you to ask someone to join you and let’s keep building up the life and vitality of the church, especially during Lent.
Finally, a big word of Thanks to you. I am a grateful priest to have this tremendous honor of being the pastor of Old St. Patrick’s. I don’t take this job lightly. I am passionate and deeply committed to YOU! My hope, prayer, and responsibility to help us all grow as disciples in this world. Thank you for allowing me to have this privilege and task here at Old St. Pat’s. A blessed and renewing Lent for all of us.
Father Tom Hurley