February 14-15, 2015

In just a few days the violet colors of Lent will accent the church as the season of Lent begins. The next six weeks will feature a more subdued liturgy (no singing of the Gloria, no final hymn). We will be nourished by scriptures which call us to repentance and new beginnings. Will pray that God's graces will interrupt the pattern of sin in our lives. Let us support one another as we surrender what is broken in our lives to the Lord.

Recently I became aware of the need to provide gluten-free hosts to parishioners who suffer from celiac disease. Parishes respond to this need in different ways, taking into account varying degrees of gluten sensitivity. Once we have determined our own procedures, you'll read about them in this column. In the meantime, please let me know if you can be helped with a gluten-free host.

The parish survey: Question #6 inquired about your appreciation of the word "evangelization." The responses contained a pleasant surprise for me. 191 of you are inspired by this word. A close second, 102 respondents, are intrigued. Both answers fall on the positive side of the scale. It shows that many of you are taking to heart this reawakening in the church. The other answers: 71 are puzzled, 47 are uncomfortable, and 37 are indifferent. Regardless of the response, the word is here to stay, and Catholics will be hearing more and more about the necessity for parishes to become centers of evangelization. I hope that the ChristLife program will nourish this activity in the years ahead.

Finally, some thoughts from Pope Francis: "The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). [par. 67]