Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent? But it was just Christmas a minute ago!

Our church life has been yet another aspect of our lives adding interesting dimensions lately. In early January it was announced that a new pastor has been named to serve our parish, but he won’t start with us until March 5. Though no one I know is closely familiar with our new priest, the general scuttlebutt we hear about him is good. So hopes are up. Meanwhile, we won't hire a new music director until the new pastor is here to lead the effort. Fortunately our interim director, Paula, is doing a fine job and seems to be retaining her sanity fairly well.

A few years ago our parish went away from electing the parish council that advises the Pastor to drawing names of willing people out of a hat. (I believe the thinking was that in a parish as large as ours, voting yields only the highest name recognition, not necessarily any other characteristic.) Last year Bob was drawn as 2nd alternate, so he felt like he had dodged the bullet, so to speak. But now the second person this year has resigned, and his name was called. He is already so overextended with Boy Scout volunteering that he wasn’t at all sure he could take this on. We discussed it and realized that now that Sam is off at college, I would probably actually enjoy taking on more of a leadership role at church. So we asked if I could take his place, and I am now a member of parish council. I have attended only one meeting so far, so I don’t yet have much of an opinion about it.

And now Lent has begun. For us that is a busy, intense time in the church. We started with special services on Ash Wednesday, and there will be special components in our Masses each Sunday. Many of us adopt some sort of Lenten discipline to help further focus us on listening to God during this time. At our parish, there is also a weekly fish fry put on by the Knights of Columbus, but drawing additional serving staff each week from a different organization. It’s a lovely way to enjoy fellowship with others in the church.

For Catholics Lent ends with what we call the Triduum. This is one long worship service celebrated in three sections over three days. It starts on Holy Thursday with a focus on the Last Supper; resumes on Good Friday with a commemoration of the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross; and it ends late Saturday night at the Easter Vigil, where we celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead. This three-day service is a great time to be a choir member, as we do lots of special, interesting music. But of course, getting from here to there also means a heavy rehearsal schedule.

Some of you who have followed me in years past know that I have often done a separate Lenten blog as my Lenten discipline. I have opted not to do that this year, partly because this year I was really moved by the words of Matthew 6:6: "When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." And honestly, it just didn't feel right for me this year, whereas in those previous years, it felt absolutely right, and probably was the right thing to do then. So I've undertaken a private discipline this time instead. But even though daily blogging isn't my Lenten discipline this time, I am hoping I can keep up the recent trend of more frequent posts in this blog through Lent and beyond.

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