Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Each year, the Faithful of the Diocese of Tucson are encouraged to participate in The Annual Catholic Appeal. “Persevering in Hope” is the title that has been chosen for this year’s appeal, and there is a beautiful reference to Romans 12:12 added to the title. As you prayerfully consider contributing to the appeal, I would encourage you to read the entire section from which this one verse is taken, which is Romans 12:9-21. Since we can’t have any printed materials in the church at this time, we have the brochures and special collection envelopes for the appeal in the parish office. The brochure lists all the various ministries that are supported by the appeal, and I believe it is worthwhile to acquaint yourselves with them. What are a few of them? Seminarian and clergy education and support, Catholic Community Services, grants to needy parishes and Native American missions are just a few of the more than 26 ministries supported by the appeal. Again, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider contributing to the Annual Catholic Appeal.
I know that I don’t really have to remind you that this Sunday will mark the return to limited in-person attendance at Mass here at St. Frances Cabrini – but I’m going to do it anyway! We will still offer our drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. On Sundays, our Family Mass (for those under 65 and those families with children) will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m., and the Mass for those who are over 65 will be at 10:30 a.m. For those who come for the Masses, I remind you that you must wear a mask throughout the entire celebration. If for any reason you cannot wear a mask, then I must ask you to attend the drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Saturdays. For the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday Masses, remember that the Eucharist will be distributed outside on the west patio following the final prayer and blessing of the Mass, and, of course, only the Body of Christ will be distributed. Please, remember to keep social distance between yourselves as you go to receive communion, and again, let me remind you that this is a very sacred time even though it’s being celebrated out of doors.
Sunday is also the First Sunday of Lent. For those of you who received ashes this past Wednesday, you would have heard the words of Jesus as the ashes were imposed on your forehead:
“Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Those words are from this Sunday’s Gospel reading. If you received ashes from me, you would have heard me say, “Turn away from your sins (which means ‘repent’) and be faithful to the gospel (in other words, believe in it!).” My hope, as always, is that we will take seriously what we were asked to do last Wednesday: repent and believe. Lent is a time of deeper self-examination. It is given to us each year so that we can take a more serious look at our spiritual life, and, if we discover that there are thoughts, habits, or any other thing that is impeding our relationship with the Lord, make the effort to correct them. It is so easy to just go through the little ceremony of receiving ashes on our foreheads and yet lack any resolve to correct any faults that are in our lives. So, as we begin this holy season, may we each one approach it with the seriousness it requires, and, when Easter arrives, may we be found rejoicing in the newness of life which our repentance and belief have brought about within us.
We are so blessed to be living here in Tucson, especially as we hear about how greatly people are suffering in other parts of the country due to the awful snowstorms and bitter cold. Please keep all those folks in your most fervent prayers. I’m praying that the government will speedily release all resources at its disposal to help alleviate the misery so many millions of our fellow citizens are enduring. I invite you to join me in those prayers.
Please accept just these few lines for today. May you continue to know the richest of blessings from our Heavenly Father.
Your brother in Christ,