Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we enter the 5th week in Ordinary Time. Hearing again from the Gospel of Mark, we encounter Jesus healing and expelling. These actions of Jesus remind us that God comes to the most vulnerable with great compassion and mercy. People were freed from their personal challenges because of the advocacy of others. Jesus was told about Peter’s mother-in-law. People brought to Jesus the ill and possessed. These people knew and trusted in Jesus’ compassion for others.
In our prayer, we rightly pray for the many personal needs that we entrust to God’s care. Let us also remember to be an advocate for others. Our “telling” and “bringing” the needs of others to God are vital in our care for others. Many people suffer from various personal challenges. Through our quiet, prayerful advocacy, we can sneak in the backdoor the grace of God to provide support and bring healing to those we care about and those that may not know the healing love of God.
On February 15th, our parish communities will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. Bishop Amos will be the celebrant for this important sacrament in the life of our young adults. The confirmandi have been preparing for the last two years to make this formal profession of their faith and to be strengthened by the graces of the Holy Spirit, to continue to grow and witness to the faith. Let us be spiritual advocates for them as they take on this new chapter in their discipleship.
Ash Wednesday is just around the corner. This formal beginning of the season of Lent reminds us of our mortality and our need to repent and believe in the Gospel. As we have been journeying through this pandemic, each of us have made changes to our everyday life to keep ourselves and others safe. The Church has done the same for ritual practices. The Diocese of Cleveland’s Office of Liturgy has provided us with guidelines on the distribution of ashes. The recommendation is to follow a European practice of sprinkling the ashes over the head of the recipient. Due to repeated person to person contact, marking the forehead with ashes should be avoided. Following these guidelines, we should remember that our interior spiritual disposition is more important than an outward marking. I encourage you to read the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18), where Jesus reminds us to be cautious of outward appearances. So let us receive the sprinkling of ashes with an interior spiritual conviction to prayer, fasting, and alms giving.
Ash Wednesday Schedule
Saint Clement 8:00 am and 5:15 pm
Distribution of individual ashes (no Mass):
Saint Clement 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
At the end of this week’s gospel, Jesus gives a command “Let us go.” We go with Jesus into the lives of others through prayer and personal support. “We are our brother’s keepers”, as the saying goes. Let us be confident in our advocacy.