Feb 282020

Finding real grace during Lent

grace

This afternoon I watched an independent film titled Anesthesia. It featured one of my favorite actors, Sam Waterson. If you wish to see it, you can on Hulu right now. The movie has a rather interesting arch and it seems that no two people get the same message out of it. As I watched it, I was struck by one message that rang out loud and clear to me during this start of Lent: we all look for ways to avoid pain and suffering. In other words, we look for cheap grace.

Many of the characters turned to alcohol, sex, self-harm, and drugs to avoid the pain and suffering in their lives. They found themselves self-medicating to avoid facing the reality around them and further to avoid having to change their lives. It is always easier, at least in our minds, to avoid changing than it is to face our past, present or future with the resolve necessary to improve.

Lent calls us to take a hard look at our lives and to fix those things wrong within us. As I say over and over again, it is not just about fish on Friday’s. It is about real soul searching and real change. We are called to set aside our vices and replace them with virtues. It is about helping those around us and helping to change society.

I understand all too well the mess the world is in. I see it everyday in the faces of the sick and dying as well as the students and young people I meet at school. We all fear for the future and at times are paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the mess before us. Yet, we cannot sit by and do nothing.

The Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship said, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Bonhoeffer wrote this words in 1937 in Germany at the start of the atrocities of World War II.

Far too often we as Christians look for the route of “cheap grace” not just during Lent, but throughout our Christian lives. This Lent I challenge you to avoid “cheap grace” and focus on real change. Real repentance requires not just a hard look in the mirror but also a decision to make a complete turn from our sins and vices.

Join me on this path toward repentance and away from denial of who we are. Come and experience real grace this Lent!

Feb 212020

A different kind of Lent

lent

The season of Lent is about to start. This is a time of year when we should do some serious self-reflection. We should also use this time to focus on positive changes to our lives. Many people think that Lent is only about fasting from meat on Fridays and Stations of the Cross and Adoration. Lent can be so much more than that.

For me, Lent means taking a hard look at my life and finding ways I can be a better Christian. This Lent our parish is offering the devotional booklet by Franciscan Media called Lent with Maximilian Kolbe. It is a daily devotional booklet to help you improve your spiritual life.

We have also scheduled Stations of the Cross and Adoration on March 7 and March 21 at 6:00 PM. I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and experience the path he took to liberate us from our sins.

This is also the opportunity to work to combat the hate and bigotry that is growing our world. By looking deep within ourselves and finding those dark parts of us that allow hate to grow, we can work to eliminate them. We can work to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his command to love all people, even our enemies.

Let’s rid ourselves of our vices and add in some good activities to make us better Christians during this season.

Feb 152020

Lent and community building

lent

We are continuing our focus on building community here at Saint Francis. And as we prepare to enter Lent, now is a good time to look at ways we can strength our community and help others during this time.

Lent is not just about giving up things, but it is also about picking up good habits.

One of those good habits is helping others. Here at Saint Francis we have a Blessing Bag program that gives much needed food and supplies to our homeless friends and families. We can always use help putting together these bags as well as purchasing the supplies to fill them. Then comes the fun part: distributing those bags to those who need them most.

Another good thing you can do is you can participate in our parish life. We all can benefit from your support at Mass. Whether it is being a lector, altar server, gift bearer or just participating at Mass, your help is vital to our parish. On top of that, you can help spread the word about our radically welcoming and inclusive parish. You can share our blogs and postings with your friends and families members.

There is so much we can do to build our community this Lent. But in order to do so, we need you to be a part of our parish family. Join us as we work to build a parish that values each and every member and who is radically inclusive and supportive!