Dear Friends in Christ,
I have two items for your consideration:
1. Effective immediately we are changing the way we take up second collections, and I want you to know why. The first collection, taken at the beginning of the offertory rite, is for the support of the parish, and several times each year we also take up a second collection after Holy Communion for purposes designated by our bishop in concert with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The funds which are given in the second collections are simply passed on to the designated recipient, and the parish does not keep any money from those second collections.
It has been the custom for many decades to take up these two different collections at two different times during Mass because most contributions were made in cash, but that is no longer the case. The vast majority of our gifts are received by checks given in printed envelopes or by electronic transfer, which means that taking up two collections at the same Mass is no longer required to insure that you are able to donate the amount you want to the collection you choose. For this reason, all envelopes for both collections will now be accepted during the one and only passing of the plate at Mass which will be at the beginning of the offertory rite, and we will no longer pass the plate again after Holy Communion. Thank you for your generosity, both to the parish and to the various causes supported through the second collections.
2. The 40 Days of Lent begin this week with Ash Wednesday, and all of us once again have an opportunity to grow in our friendship with the Lord Jesus through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. But to grow in that divine friendship we must first correctly identify the obstacles to it. In the first of his three letters in the New Testament, St John the Apostle and Evangelist identifies those obstacles: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2.15-17)
The disciplines of Lent are not undertaken to earn the favor of God because the favor of God is free and unmerited. God’s grace cannot be earned, but when it is freely given it must be accepted with the obedience of faith which changes the way we live because while grace is free it is not cheap. The disciplines of Lent are the means best suited to our cooperating with God’s grace so that we can be liberated by Christ Jesus from the disordered self-love that manifests itself in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. So let us resolve now to keep a holy Lent to prepare to share in the joy that comes at the Passover of the Lord celebrated in the Paschal Triduum and on Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection.