Satan is real. We hear in our first reading this weekend of the fall of Adam and Eve through their disobedience to God and listening to Satan. In the Gospel, Satan tempts Jesus with the same temptations he did with Adam and Eve. Jesus reverses the disobedience of Adam and Eve by obeying and trusting in his Father. Satan’s whole goal is to lead us away from God by not trusting and obeying our Heavenly Father.
The Church gives us fasting, almsgiving and prayer as spiritual practices for Lent. Without going into too much detail, these three practices go against the promises and lures of Satan. In short summary, we pray because we need and depend on God. We fast because we realize that the goodness of food and other things point to a higher good. We give alms because we make the needs of others our own.
Because March 19 falls on a Sunday, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which regularly is on March 19, is being celebrated on Monday, March 20, this year. I hope you will be able to attend Mass that day to celebrate the “father” of Jesus and patron saint of the universal Church.
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is on Saturday, March 25, nine months before the birth of Christ. We can’t thank our Blessed Mother enough for her “yes” to God, which is the opposite of what Eve did in the garden. We pray that we may always say “yes” to God—and “yes” even in difficult times. It’s the most important decision we make in life.
That’s probably a bad heading! However, I was listening to the podcast “Abiding Together” recently and one of the hosts explained the painting of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. At the center of the painting is God reaching toward Adam (humanity). God’s finger is stretching forth as far as possible to connect with Adam. However, Adam’s finger is bent and not fully reaching out to God. This signifies that we have the free will to connect to God or stay at a distance from our Creator—who loves us more than anyone! God never imposes but always proposes and we have the choice to reach out to the One who is always searching for us. He desires to be one with us.
The first National Eucharistic Congress in 83 years will take part in Indianapolis in July of 2024. To learn more about the event and register to attend, visit www.eucharisticcongress.org. The next phase of the Eucharistic Revival will take place in our parishes. I am thankful to Bill Meagher from our chancery who is working with parishes to help plan their local efforts to celebrate the Eucharistic Revival. The Eucharist is the greatest treasure of the Church. It is Jesus who comes to us with his desire to be in “Communion” with us—and yes, be in communion with others.
As part of the Eucharistic Revival, you will have the opportunity to venerate the first-class relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis and St. Manuel González García, both of whom are renowned for their devotion to the Eucharist. Obviously, we don’t worship relics but we simply acknowledge and thank God for the saintly life they led with the hopes we can imitate the life of Christ in our own lives as they did. The tour will take place from March 19–25. Look for more information to come on the diocesan website regarding which parishes will be hosting the tour.
Many people are joining the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this year. It’s an exciting time for them and their families. The Rite of Election is the choice and admission of those entering the Church to take part in the major celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation). It’s neat to see the Candidates and Catechumens meet people from other parishes making the same choice. The Rite of Election is held on February 26 at St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Hays and then on March 5 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, both at 3 pm.
Please attend the Chrism Mass on Thursday, March 30, at 11:30 am at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, if you are able. During this special Mass, we will bless the oils to be used for the Sacraments and the priests will renew their ordination promises. It is also a sign of the unity of the Church with the laity, religious, deacons and priests with the bishop all present. All are invited to attend.
I just finished my first day at a parish for the “Year of Mercy” at St. Francis of Assisi in Norton. I thoroughly enjoyed the day meeting with the parish and finance councils, hearing confessions, visiting the homebound, celebrating Mass, and meeting with the youth group. The world is crying out for mercy. The world will be saved by mercy!
I will be at the following parishes in March for the Year of Mercy: St. Isidore-Manhattan on March 7; St. Francis Xavier-Junction City on March 8; IHM-Hays on March 9; OLPH-Goodland on March 12; Holy Ghost-Sharon Springs on March 13; St. Nicholas of Myra-Hays on March 14; and St. Thomas More-Manhattan on March 28. I hope to see you there!
I can’t thank you enough for your generous support of our diocese so we can fulfill our mission to bring the love and mercy of Jesus to others. The Bishop’s Annual Appeal participation weekend is March 4 – 5. Thank you so much in advance for your gift.
Speaking of giving, thank you for all your support of Catholic Charities in our diocese. Additionally, there is a collection for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) the weekend of March 18 – 19. CRS helps the poor and vulnerable throughout the world.
Excited to hear that Sacred Heart Catholic School in Salina were the state champions in the state’s scholar bowl for the second year in a row. TMP-Marian placed third; St. John’s Beloit placed 4th and St. Francis Xavier Junction City also qualified for state in their respective classifications. Well done!
There are several people up for canonization, but a recent one intrigued me. A married couple Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children will be beautified after their martyrdom for protecting and hiding Jewish people during World War II. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others.”
People may hear some minor changes in the words of absolution during Lent. Instead of the words “sent the Holy Spirit among us” the priest will say “poured out the Holy Spirit.” Additionally, the priest will say “may God grant you pardon and peace” instead of “may God give you pardon and peace.” Please be patient with the priests (and me) in saying these changes. Please know that your confession is still valid even if the priest doesn’t use the new changes, which take effect April 16 but can begin now.
Speaking of confession, many people have commented to me how much they enjoyed reading about a story that I told in my column in this month’s Register. For his mother’s birthday several years ago, the mom told her college son at the time, “I don’t want anything for my birthday except for you to go to confession.” He had strayed away from the Church and saw that his life was void of meaning. The son went. He said he encountered the love and mercy of Jesus for the first time. He eventually became a priest.
Last Friday I was in Hays and I drove by Holy Family Catholic School where I saw the children outside for recess. I decided to stop in for a few minutes. I ended up playing football with a group of children. I was the quarterback. I was scrambling away from a rush as I thought I could be Patrick Mahomes. Instead, I slipped and fell forward on the cement parking lot. My hands and knees braced most of the fall, but then my nose slightly scraped the ground, and I ended up with a small fracture. It looked worse than it was, I had hardly any pain and I know it could have been a lot worse. I had surgery yesterday and all is well. Perhaps the worst of it is my pride! It was good for humility. Not only is my face black and blue, but some of the priests and my family and friends had fun with it when I told them that I was playing against 2nd graders! They couldn’t believe 2nd graders “took me down.”
I will be leaving on Monday morning joining nine other bishops for an eight-day Ignatian silent retreat through the Institute of Priestly Formation. It takes a little while to get used to not looking at your cell phone or computer whatsoever and not talking to anyone except your director for one hour a day…but after a short time away from the noise, I begin to enjoy the silence. Part of the Ignatian retreat is meditating on Scripture passages four hours a day. What a blessing! I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
I found Pope Francis’ words for his Ash Wednesday Homily very helpful. He said, “Lent is a good time to examine ourselves in the light of truth, to let go of distractions like overbooked calendars, and to improve our relationships with God and others. Let us set out on the path of fasting and use these 40 days to take stock of ourselves, to free ourselves from the dictatorship of full schedules, crowded agendas, and superficial needs, and choose the things that truly matter. This is the favorable time to be converted, to stop looking at ourselves and to start looking into ourselves.”
Please know of my love and prayers. It’s always great to see you throughout the diocese and beyond.
“Unless there is Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”
~ Venerable Fulton Sheen
“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may go to heaven.”
~ Saint Rose of Lima
“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves… What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.”
~ Servant of God Catherine Doherty
“During Lent, let us find concrete ways to overcome our indifference.”
~ Pope Francis