March 11, 2018

In my Bulletin Column for the First Sunday of Lent, I reflected on the Lenten discipline of prayer. In that reflection, I described how the traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are an integrated whole.

The starting point of prayer is a chance to re-focus ourselves on being good stewards of our time, that is, on setting aside time for God. This fundamental Lenten discipline then calls us to refocus our appetites and to spend some time fasting, that is, sacrificing some of our abundance so that we may more and more hunger for our God.

The discipline of almsgiving flows from these first disciplines of prayer and fasting. It is in our re-commitment to spending time in prayer, and in our sacrifice of some of our abundance, that we can enter more deeply into solidarity with those who are in need. Operation Rice Bowl and this Sunday’s collection for Catholic Relief Services are two concrete ways to allow our Lenten disciplines to lead us to giving to those in need.

I would like to reflect further on the source and summit of our whole Christina life: Sunday Mass. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, when we re-commit ourselves to the Lenten discipline of prayer, our starting point is the Sunday Liturgy. Last weekend I had a chance to reflect on the centrality of the Sunday Mass with our Liturgical Ministers at St. Thomas. Following is a summary of those reflections.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council states that “…the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Second Vatican Council, 4 December 1963, #10). Each Sunday the Church gathers to celebrate the saving love of God, through his Son, Jesus, the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Michael introduced me to an author who described beautifully the power of Mass: “We do not begin the liturgy, the Trinity does. We join a liturgy already in progress. The liturgy is not the activity of the Jesus Club, liturgy is rather coming to be connected into God’s own life” (On Liturgical Asceticism, David W. Fagerberg p.4).

The chance to “be connected into God’s own life,” should help all of us to see the gift and opportunity we have at the Mass. Our obligation to gather and celebrate every Sunday, springs from a desire to spend time connected to God in the most intense way we know how. This is an obligation that can come from a heart of gratitude - not an obligation imposed from outside of us, but one that emerges from our own time spent with God in prayer.

Abbott Jeremy Driscoll, from Mt. Angel Abbey, has written a beautiful little book entitled. What Happens at Mass. In that book Abbott Jeremy writes, “The Mass is about love. It is not an idea about love but the supreme encounter with love…because of what happens at Mass, I know what it is that makes me to be: I am loved, therefore I am. For this I give thanks together with all others who know their existence to be defined in this way” (p. vii).

May these days of Lent help us to re-commit ourselves to time in prayer, encountering the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ. May we allow ourselves to be taken up into that great love each time with gather for Sunday Mass - the source and summit of our faith.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni