Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday at St. Stephen's

Yes, Lent has begun! For a season in the Church that involves fasting and almsgiving and is typically seen as a somber time, I am so joyful at the prospect of cleaning out some spiritual junk and deepening my life with the Lord. Not only that, but this time is an exciting period for St. Stephen's because the Triduum retreat and parish mission fall at the end of it. So even though Lent has just begun, my eyes are on the finish line, the amazingly beautiful liturgies and times of evangelization that will happen from Holy Thursday to Easter. Praise God!

The joy that I have was enflamed yesterday at the bilingual Ash Wednesday Mass that was celebrated at St. Stephen's. The first joy came from the choir, which blossomed from Katy and I, with our voices and my lowly guitar, to an additional pianist, flutist, and singer. Man, the piano and flute are amazing instruments. They are really helpful to sing songs that we don't know, which is often the case with our humble choir. Slowly, but surely, the group is growing. The second joy was singing Latin mass parts. If you read a recent column about the parish in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, you will see what a big step this is for the parish. A link to the column is: It's not a great article, poorly written at times, but it gives you an idea of what Fr. Joseph was facing when he arrived here a little less than a year ago. So, while we won't be singing Latin parts for most masses, we've decided to try it for bilingual masses because Latin is the universal language of the Church and doesn't favor either language group. The third joy came from seeing both communities together, worshipping together. The English mass on Sunday has only 30-40 people attending (that's a guess, I haven't yet counted) so to see a fuller church was nice and intimidating from the musical end. Overall, it was a beautiful night and I felt downright celebratory afterwards. Good things are happening!

I entrust to your prayers a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin this Saturday. We are taking the students from the School of St. Paul and a few others for an all-day trip. We have long bus rides and not a lot of time at the shrine so my prayer is that people will receive whatever they need from the trip but especially an increased sense of community between the two language groups. It's already developing. I just want it to continue to grow. That language barrier is the main difficulty.

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