Laetare Sunday  

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Jerome,

Break the fast and rejoice, for the joy of Easter is about to come!

             This is the message of Laetare Sunday. The fourth Sunday of Lent invites the entire Church to relax our Lenten penance and discipline a bit. During the Middle Ages monks in Europe were permitted to have wine on Laetare Sunday during supper, as it was a traditional practice in monastic life to eliminate wine at their meals during Lent.  Today, there are some of us who have given up sweets, beverages, or certain foods during Lent as a form of discipline to achieve self-mastery. As I previously mentioned, we have an option to relax our penitential discipline this Sunday in anticipation of the great feast that has yet to come.

Our Lenten penance, though focused on self-discipline, should not only aim at achieving self-mastery for its own sake. Our effort in prayer and penance should also bring us face to face with our brethren who are in need. Works of charity in the spirit of service should be a recapitulation of our Lenten penitential journey. Perhaps we should ask ourselves:  If Laetare Sunday is the day of anticipation for the joy of the Easter celebration, then have I taken seriously the initial three weeks of the Lenten observance? Did our reception of ashes trigger awareness to self-compunction? Otherwise, there is nothing relevant to attribute to “penitential relaxation” if we have not initiated any penance at all. What have we realized so far?

On another note, we will have our communal penance service this coming Wednesday. Please see details on the bulletin cover today. I strongly encourage everyone to come. There are two things for consideration, and I ask you to reflect on both. If during the penance service, our list of sins is the same as our last confession, then we should ask ourselves if we are paying attention to God’s invitation to conversion.

Do we really aim at mending our relationship with God and with our neighbor? Have we chosen to live in a right relationship with God and with others? If, on the other hand, we have nothing to say during confession and we are convinced that we are sinless, then it is worth asking ourselves also if we have interacted well with others. By not doing for others what we are obliged to do for them is a form of indifference. Perhaps we say, “I offend no one; I hurt no one,” because we find our neighbor irrelevant to us.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a good check and balance to help assure that our interaction with God and with our neighbor is just, loving, and humble.

Then, next Friday, our prayer devotion of the Stations of the Cross will be done in shadows. This is also a designated day for our communal soup and salad dinner to raise funds for our neighbors who are homeless. We shall begin our ministry of feeding those who live in the streets during the summer. I will keep you posted regarding this ministry soon. In the meantime, please come to the Parish Center for the communal fellowship after praying the Shadow Stations on Friday.

Lastly, we will have a parish pilgrimage to Saint John, Indiana, next Saturday to visit the Shrine of Christ’s Passion. This would be a good opportunity for us to reflect on the meaning of pilgrimage as well as the journey of Jesus to Calvary.  I hope that these parish activities offer us a new vision that will renew our spirit to celebrate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Our willingness to be part of these communal Lenten devotions is key.

I wish you a blessed week.