Next Saturday at noon, Bishop Peter Jugis will be here at Immaculate Conception to celebrate the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. At this liturgy, those who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil as well as those who will come into full communion with the Catholic Church along with their sponsors, will be presented to Bishop Jugis, who in turn, will accept them and their intentions to become one with us. Catechumens and candidates from Western North Carolina will be coming to join in this Rite. After the Rite, catechumens will now be called the Elect as they near the sacrament of Baptism. It is a privilege for us to host this celebration. Let us pray for all of them, and in particular, our own catechumens and candidates, all part of the RCIA process.
This Sunday in the Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus' Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, the disciples keep secret what they have seen. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus' Resurrection even as we prepare to remember Jesus' Passion and death.
Thank you all so very much for your prayers as we traveled on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Please know that you were in our prayers as well. It was a very exciting and spiritual experience for all of us. I hope you have the opportunity to look at some, if not all our pictures that were posted to Facebook.
One day we visited Bethlehem Nativity Souvenirs. People had a chance to pick up some gifts for those at home or themselves. Before we began to shop, the owner called us all together, I offered a prayer, and the owner presented me with an icon of the Holy Family. It just arrived and will be placed on the wall in the church, opposite side from St. Francis. It is just beautiful and will be a reminder of the great experience we had.
This Gospel highlights for us one of the central themes of the Season of Lent. We are dependent upon God for all that we have and all that we are. Anything that leads us to reject this dependency or to distrust its sufficiency, is a temptation from the devil.
Below are some suggestions you may want to consider as we enter Lent on Wednesday. Lenten fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus' healing touch this Lent.
1. Fast from anger and hatred. Give your family an extra dose of love each day.
2. Fast from judging others. Before making any judgments, recall how Jesus overlooks our faults.
3. Fast from discouragement. Hold onto Jesus' promise that he has a perfect plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
4. Fast from complaining. When you find yourself about to complain, close your eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given you.
5. Fast from resentment or bitterness. Work on forgiving those who may have hurt you.
6. Fast from spending too much money. Try to reduce your spending by ten percent and give these savings to the poor.
GREAT NEWS!!! As you may have heard by now, as part of the Forward in Faith, Hope and Love campaign run by the Diocese of Charlotte, we have been awarded a grant in the amount of $500,000 for our Capital Campaign to be used for Immaculata School. What a blessing!!
We will be getting back from the Holy Land on March 2nd. It is hard to believe that on Wednesday, March 6th we will enter the holy season of Lent. Let us use this time as one of spiritual renewal. A little later in Lent, week of April 7th, we will be having a Parish Mission. More info on that is coming.
In today's Gospel Jesus' words challenge those who would follow him to be more like God. God loves us beyond our expectations, beyond anything we can possibly imagine. In response to God's love, we are to love as God loves, beyond expectations and with a depth beyond imagining.
Congratulations to the many couples who renewed their marriage vows last Sunday at the 11:30 Mass. May God continue to bless each of you.
This Wednesday, February 20th, I will join with 36 other parishioners as we journey to the Holy Land. If you wish to follow our pilgrimage, you can do so on Facebook. A special page has been set up: Holy Land with Fr. Martin 2019. Hopefully we will be posting each day of our experiences. We will be returning March 2nd. Please pray for us!
In today's Gospel we are reminded that our vocation as Christians is not to be first in this world, but rather to be first in the eyes of God. We are challenged to examine our present situation in the context of our ultimate horizon, the Kingdom of God.