by Sandy Crews, ministry leaders of the Stewardship Council
As we begin the season of Lent during the Year of Hospitality, we want to focus on intentionally inviting Christ to be the center of our lives. Through the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we participate in Christ’s sacrifice of His life for us. By giving up our selfish wants and behaviors, by confronting our shortcomings, our sins, and our self-defeating habits, we become more like Christ.
As Bishop Robert Barron states:
“Our forty day Lenten journey toward Easter is fundamentally an imitatio Christi—an imitation of Jesus’ time in the desert. It is a time of simplicity, purification, and self-denial, of setting aside our distractions and diversions and getting back to the basics of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.”
The Stewardship Council has chosen the image of Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross as our reminder that we all need to adopt an attitude of reverence, gratitude, and sharing our gifts with others during this Lenten season. The “Apostle to the Apostles” also reminds us to share Christ with others by being hospitable and inviting others to “Come Encounter Christ”. Over the course of the next six weeks, we will highlight some of the ways that various ministries at the Church of St. Mary are participating in sharing the message of Lent with our parish family.
The Stewardship Council will have a Lenten reflection book available on Ash Wednesday for parishioners to pick up from the tables in the vestibule. It will also be available at the various Mass times. We hope that these reflections, along with the bookmark provided, will aid you in your journey through Lent and deepen your commitment to Christ.
The Knights of Columbus and the Saint Mary’s ACTS Community are partnering to offer the parish a Lenten challenge. The purpose is to bring increased awareness of the Center of Family Love, which is a facility that serves the needs of severely mentally handicapped adults in Okarche, Oklahoma. They have a threefold goal of
- raising awareness for the Family Center of Love,
- increasing tangible support for the center, both through prayer and financial commitment, and
- helping parishioners increase their own commitment to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving by giving them concrete tasks they can do each week.
Easter trees decorated with ornaments will be displayed in the vestibule and families will be encouraged to select an ornament and complete the challenge for that week. Various shapes and colors of ornaments denote different challenges. For example, the hearts represent sacrifices or fasting, the angels represent prayer, and the bishop’s miter represents almsgiving. The white ornaments are challenges for the children. Families are encouraged to select one ornament per family and have all the children participate in that challenge. Each week you can pick an ornament of a different shape or color for a new challenge.
The Stewardship Council hopes that this Lenten season will provide many opportunities to experience our motto “Come Encounter Christ” by extending Christ’s love and hospitality to all we encounter.