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Dear Friends in the Lord,
In my bulletin article last week, I shared important lessons that my high school cross-country coach, Bill Wilke, taught me, including discipline, humility and the value of teamwork. This week, I want to impart one more life lesson lesson that he instilled in me and my teammates, which has been useful throughout my life. Before any training runs or competitions, Coach Wilke always made sure that he instructed us to stretch the muscles in our legs and upper body. He told us that stretching is more than an exercise to increase speed and agility; stretching enables us overcome resistance with greater ease and avoid injury.
As Lent quickly approaches, I encourage you consider using the season of repentance as an opportunity to stretch your spiritual muscles. Fulfilling the prescriptions of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstaining from red meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Fridays during Lent are obligatory for people who are younger than age 59 and helpful for all Christians. However, consider stretching a little more during Lent so that you can more easily resist temptation with more frequent success and gain deeper awareness of the Presence of God in your daily life.
In addition to the Sacrament of Penance and daily Masses that are celebrated in the parish and the remembrance of the Stations of the Cross in Spanish on Wednesday and English on Fridays, a host of other events and programs are planned to help you stretch and strengthen your spiritual muscles during Lent. Women on Fire: A Bible Study for Catholic Women is available for women of all ages. Debbie Dellumo is organizing a series of prayer experiences, entitled, Meeting Christ in Prayer. The Men’s Rosary and Discipleship Group meets every Saturday morning at 7:30 AM for prayer, study, and fellowship. In the Tapped-In series, skilled presenters will explore challenging topics in the Church today. Area soup kitchens and men’s homeless shelters are also in need of volunteers throughout the week. If additional time commitments are not possible, you may want commit to praying the Rosary once a day during Lent, even on Sunday, or read a spiritual book during the season, choose an additional day to fast. You can find information about these services, programs, and events in the parish bulletin and you are welcome to invite friends and relatives to participate.
As I have aged, stretching my muscles has not gotten easier. My range of motion is more limited and the effort required to stretch is more intense. Stretching remains important, nonetheless. In the same way, stretching our spiritual muscles doesn’t get easier as we get older, only more necessary. In my prayer I am asking God to help me discern the discipline that will stretch my heart, help me resist temptation, and lead me more deeply into union with Jesus. I pray that you take opportunity this Lent to stretch a little more and experience the freedom that comes from expanding your heart. If I can help you, please let me know.
In the meantime, please be sure that I am asking God to bless you and those whom you love with the strength and determination necessary to face the challenge of Lent.
Faithfully yours in the Lord,
Fr. Kevin Huber