Priest's Letter for the March 2019 issue of our newsletter:
Lent is (finally) starting this month, due to a very late Easter date. On March 6, Ash Wednesday, I will be doing "ashes-to-go" for the first time: I will go to the train station in the morning with a big sign saying "Ashes to Go." Anyone who approaches me will receive a prayer and imposition of ashes. For our congregation, Mass & Imposition of Ashes is at Christ Church at 4:00 pm & 7:00 pm.
I have been wondering about why people are interested in Ash Wednesday and Lent. Why do people talk about "giving up something" for Lent (whether they end up doing so or not). I think that many people express with these words their deep need to be serious about their moral and religious commitment, but they also repeat a language they have been hearing rather than reflecting more intently about what Lenten practices can do for them. I hope we do understand that God does not need our "sacrifices" and that the practices that we decide to "take on" are intended to help us grow in our humanity, and should be measured as such.
Here at Christ Church we will be devoting the Forums on Sunday at 9:00 am to talk about and experience some of the practices that are already in place in the parish. What happens during a retreat or during "contemplative sharing"? What's the point of singing psalms every day? What does it mean that reading the Bible on one's own is not enough?
And here are some more reflections about the parish that I am making these days:
Maybe some of us are giving too much time to the parish, and are tired as as result, while not perceiving the parish as a place where they can receive and rest. If that is the case, a Lenten practice could be to refrain to accept more duties, while enjoying some of the opportunities for personal growth.
At the opposite end, some of us might be shy about participating more, or are unclear about what it means. Again, I invite all to come to the Forums on Sunday morning at 9:00 am to experience and ask questions about the various opportunities, as well as to participate in one of the three areas of development: the organic garden, the outreach to the poor, and the Spiritual Center.
At the very end of the month, on Sunday, March 31, we will have a Parish Meeting to share information with each other about these areas of development.
The opportunities for prayer together in community will be expanded during Lent (see calendar).
I am available, as always, for pastoral counseling, spiritual direction and/or confession.
A recent guest, Brother Dennis Gibbs, of the Community of Divine Love, made a comment to me about the parish: "This is really an intentional community". Let's reflect on what that means and let's make it even more a reality.