Dear Ones in Christ,
OK – my bad!! Last week when I wrote to you about how we’re planning to conduct our Ash Wednesday drive-through I wrote, “… I will invite you to observe Ash Wednesday much the same way as we observe our drive-through reception of Holy Communion.” Of course, we do drive-through each Saturday at 5:00 p.m., so, somewhere in my fevered little brain, I just assumed that everybody would pick up on the thought that we’d be doing Ash Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. also. I misread the room! So, with apologies to all, let me assure you that Ash Wednesday, February 17, at 5:00 p.m., we will have our drive-through reception of ashes. Again, just line up in the parking lot in our accustomed fashion. If there are several people in your car, please roll down all side windows closest to the other passengers as well, since I will have some volunteers helping me distribute ashes.
Another question that comes up almost every weekend is, “Father, have you heard anything about when we’ll get to have Mass again?” Of course, every weekend the answer is the same, “No, I haven’t heard anything yet. When our Bishop communicates with me, I will get the word right out to all of you.” As I send this out to you this weekend, the response is the same, “No, I haven’t heard anything from our Bishop yet.” Earlier in the month, Bishop Weisenburger emailed all the pastors and said that his plans were to meet with his Covid Committee hopefully sometime during the first week of February to evaluate the situation. While we’re right at that first week now, I hope we’re all conscious of the fact that our Bishop has an awful lot on his plate right now. His care for all of us is, truly, his number one priority. I encourage all to be very patient and supportive of that good man, and, above all, keep him in your constant prayers.
I very rarely write about or share any reflections from the Responsorial Psalm which accompanies our readings every weekend. Our psalm is Ps. 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9, and the response is, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” It is a reflection upon the events of Exodus 17: 1-7 in which the Children of Israel had left the wilderness of Sin and had encamped at a place called Rephidim where there was no water. It was there that the people complained against Moses and against the Lord, accusing them of having brought them out of Egypt only to let them die in the wilderness. It was there that, in doubt and bitterness, they quarreled against and tested the Lord. Yes, this was an incredibly difficult situation for the Israelites to face, but in the difficulty they did something that is so terribly human: they forgot. They forgot that, when they had been slaves in Egypt, they had cried out to the Lord in their affliction, and He heard them and delivered them. They forgot the great miracles of their deliverance and the destruction of their oppressors. They forgot that God Himself had provided the manna for them to eat (as recorded in the preceding chapter!). Most importantly, and I don’t know how this could have happened within only a few days after they had come up out of Egypt, they forgot that God was in their very midst. It’s unfortunately true that oftentimes, when we’re in our most difficult situations of life, we forget the Source of our comfort and strength. I find myself far too often reverting to a spirit of complaining and bitterness instead of trusting that the One who has been leading my life right up to this point is still more than able to help me, comfort and reassure me. I’m coming to realize a little bit more all the time that it’s in those situations that God is often just gently, patiently waiting for me to turn to Him again to pour out my need before Him. I can pour out my hurt as well as my bitterness as long as I also pour out my trust in Him as well. Yes, cry out, but pour out the fullness of your heart in loving trust. The Lord is simply waiting for you to trust Him again. So, in these days, as we listen for the voice of God in these present situations of life, let Him speak to your heart through them, and don’t let them harden your heart.
Please know that you’re always near to my heart and in my thoughts. I recognize how special you are because you are the People of God, and it’s my joy to pray for each one of you. I would beg you to keep me ever in your hearts as well.
Yours in the peace of Christ,