February 26, 2020
Dear Friends of St. Anne's Shrine,
Today we begin the solemn season of Lent. In these next forty days we are called to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Many of us have the traditional understanding that the season is about repentance, sacrifice and “doing without” to discipline ourselves physically so our spiritual lives can be nurtured through such practices. It can be seen as a hard season, perhaps something to grudgingly accept hoping for a quick conclusion. I have to admit that some years I am not ready for Lent and wish we could jump right to Holy Week. As an athlete, I was always reminded by coaches: “No pain, no gain.” The spiritual life is similar. We need to do the hard work of prayer to celebrate the benefits and results in the end.
We should look at Lent in more positive terms. The four Gospels can be described as the story of Jesus Christ and the revelation that He is the Son of God. The Gospels can also be seen as the story of the disciples and how they gradually learned the true identity and mission of Jesus. For ourselves too, we can view the season of Lent not only in terms of discipline and sacrifice, but as another graced opportunity to journey with Jesus for forty days and learn in a deeper way who He is and what his mission entails. In this period of increased prayer we can walk alongside Jesus in the daily scriptures and learn more about him while understanding anew what being a follower truly means. The destination of this walk is Holy Week concluding with the celebration of the Easter mysteries.
The dramatic events of the Last Supper and Good Friday culminate in the empty tomb followed by the disciples encountering Jesus as being alive. Our resurrection faith is celebrated in a joyful way in the Easter season with Baptisms, Confirmations and First Holy Communions. A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to celebrate with my family the baptism of my grandniece, Grace Patricia. In Baptism our faith is handed down to another generation to be nurtured by a loving family and faith-filled community. Looking into the eyes of a newly baptized baby invokes the infinite potentialities of human life and the best hopes and dreams for a beloved child. The Easter mysteries are about life – our life in Christ given to us in baptism and eternal life when we complete our pilgrimage journey here on earth.
St. Anne’s Shrine is a place where these Easter mysteries are celebrated with joy. Pilgrims make their way to the Shrine to experience the tranquility of our grounds and to be reconciled with God through the Sacraments. Your support makes the Shrine possible. We simply cannot support the Shrine through our summer Mass collections which have fallen due to less people practicing our faith. Please make a generous gift in the Lenten spirit of almsgiving so that the Shrine will always be available to pilgrims to celebrate the Easter mysteries. Thank you for your support and please be assured of our prayers during these holy seasons.
Rev. Brian J. Cummings, S.S.E.