I am not so sure that if Jesus were alive today that many would hear his invitation to “follow me” and set everything in life aside and follow him. Can you imagine leaving behind family, one’s livelihood, personal ambitions, hopes for the future and then follow some traveling preacher who speaks of repentance and the Kingdom of God. What would draw someone away from our life as we know it to something that guarantees nothing of foreseeable plans or outcomes? Does this not make Jesus’ message even more powerful? His words are equated with God’s reign on earth and for most people that is not enough to give up what you know in this life to something you do not know. That’s part of the mystery of God’s Kingdom. If we embrace the Kingdom Jesus proclaims it may take us places where we do not want to go. The Kingdom of God will ground us and keep us fully humble. Just ask the apostles!

I really do not care for the month of January because I am not a cold weather person. However, I am trying diligently to push my way through these thirty-one days. I cannot believe we are already at the end of the month. January is filled with stark reminders of issues we cannot forget. Last Monday we celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. His ministry still lives on in many ways today. His fight for equality and the end to racism are a constant call to our society and the world that we continue to work on this most important issue.

This past Wednesday was the anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States. This decision has certainly rippled through our society the last forty-seven years. I wish I could turn the clock back and see what could have been done to alter this decision. I say that because I know that both men and women have been affected by the partaking in the abortion procedure. I have incredible compassion when someone comes to me, and the discussion is about their abortion. I also know there are many who have had an abortion but believe they are not welcomed in the Church or even more disregarded by God. We certainly will uphold the unborn, and if need be, will minster to those who are seeking help who have had an abortion. Please continue to pray for this issue!

If you notice in the Gathering Area, there is a sign-up for the Lenten spiritual exercise called “Memento Mori” or “Remember Your Death.” This was a popular devotion during medieval times. But the tradition of remembering one’s death stretches back to the beginning of salvation history. After the first sin, God reminds Adam and Eve of their mortality:
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” From the book of Sirach, he mentions death in such a positive light, “In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” Even the psalmist points out to us, “Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” All is required of you is to sign-up so we can order the right number of books before Lent begins (Ash Wednesday is February 26 – one month from today!). The daily reflections are no more than four pages long and we will meet as a group once each of the weeks during Lent to offer our reflections.

I hope you were present at Mass two weeks ago when I announced that we had raised $625,000.00 for the Heart of a Shepherd Campaign. This was way beyond our intended goal. We will have the luxury of taking care of some renovations in and around the church building. We are currently working on pricing and seeking what will be the best fit for our parish. Once again, I cannot say it enough, Thank You for your tremendous generosity. What we do not spend on the renovations and upkeep of our ministries will go towards the seminary campaign. I will keep you informed as to the improvements and renovations that will be made.

Thank you to all who have been coming to the Monday night session as we try to examine the life of Jesus Christ and his impact on our life. These sessions will go through the month of March from 7PM-8:15PM in Hanson Hall. Come as often as you like, we have room for everyone.

The Red Cross Blood Drive is on February 9th from 9AM-1:30PM. We have had a great response with the first two times the Red Cross has been with us. If you have any questions, please call the parish office. I hope you consider giving the gift of blood. There is always a need!

It is never too early to start thinking about Lent. We are one month away from its start and this is the time of year I begin to seek ways to spend more time in prayer and reflection. Remember “Memento Mori” is a great way to see life in the context of death and beyond. It is seeing our life through the lens of eternity!

Have a great week and remember the importance of prayer and worship.

Father Dave