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Back First Sunday of Lent
Saturday, March 9, 2019
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
All three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, record the event of the “temptation of Jesus in the desert.” This liturgical year, we continue our lessons from the Gospel of Luke. On this first Sunday of Lent, the account begins by declaring that, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert.” (Luke 4:1). In chapter three of Luke, the evangelist recalls Jesus’ baptism and how the Spirit descends upon him as a dove. Thus, we are aware that it is the Spirit of God who led Jesus to do battle with temptation. In each Gospel narrative the temptations are similar and all too human. The temptations could be said to be: the use one’s talents and ability only to fulfill one’s own immediate gratifications and desires, the quest for power and domination, and the temptation of self-doubt and not trusting in one’s God given abilities as well as one’s identity as a unique child of God. The length of time of fasting and prayer is said to be forty days and forty nights; biblically meaning “the perfect amount of time.” “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time,” (Luke 4:13). This is an indication that the battle with Satan has just begun. Jesus won round one, but during His three years of ministry other battles will have to be fought. Each year the church’s liturgical calendar provides us the opportunity to spend forty days and forty nights examining ourselves and engaging in spiritual battle with our own temptations and sins. Just as with Jesus we are not alone, for the Spirit of God, given to us in our Baptism, accompanies and strengthens us along the way. Our Nativity parish community offers many opportunities of prayer, study, and challenge throughout our Lenten journey. We offer many times of Sacramental Reconciliation and Healing. May the Lord guide and direct you on your individual journey as we walk beside each other along the road leading to Calvary. We adore you Oh Christ and we bless you for by your Cross and resurrection You have redeemed the world.
RENEWING LAY LEADERSHIP….
At the end of July, our parish’s Parish Council met and had a discussion about the vitality of the current parish council. As recorded in its notes of the July 25th meeting: “In light of the resignations of four current members, three more terms expiring in August and the lack of new candidates for the council, it suggested a hiatus in PC (Parish Council) operations and a review of council operations take place by an appointed group, beginning in September. Their task would be to make recommendations for the operation of a new council or an alternative by December so that it could begin operating in January 2019.” In light of the challenges associated with restructuring the Parish Council, I decided to take a different approach to promoting lay leadership in the parish.
During the summer months, the parish trustees convened a group of lay parish leaders, who met with me in order to express their support and guidance. In mid-September, the link between Nativity, St. Lawrence and St. Martin de Porres parishes was to be relaxed and I was slated to move into the rectory, where with Fr. Daniel, our full time attention would be Nativity Parish.
The support and willingness of this group of lay leadership was most welcomed and encouraged. In late September, I moved in and with Fr. Daniel began to work out our ministry schedules and prepare to embrace the challenges ahead. As we all are aware, these future plans were temporarily put on hold by my Administrative Leave that began, Nov. 3rd, 2018. The lay leadership group continued to meet and encouraged and assisted Fr. Daniel in his new task as Parish Administrator.
Also last November 28,th many lay leaders within the Church and Educational Community joined together to form “The Movement to Restore Trust.” It began with a symposium organized at Canisius College and headed by its president John J. Hurley. What is it? It is “an independent organization of concerned, committed Catholics in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, formed to assert the laity’s rightful role in the Church and to help lead a movement to restore trust and confidence in the Church, in the wake of public disclosures about the Diocese’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases.” It is also defined as “an independent group of concerned Catholics who are committed to our faith, to restoring trust in our Diocese and to the Vatican II ideal that we, laity and ordained alike, are all the church…..We seek to give voice to Catholics, who share deep concerns about the state of the Diocese. Through constructive reform, not revolution, we seek to act in conformity with Catholic beliefs and canon law. We are recruiting interested lay people, religious women and the clergy of the Diocese in developing a path forward for our Diocese, in line with Catholic beliefs, ecclesiology and canon law.” Even while I was on leave, I had the opportunity to attend the symposium and was glad to see many lay leaders of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in attendance.
With my reinstatement as Pastor on December 21st, 2018 this group of lay leadership, many of whom were active participants in the Canisius College Symposium and workshop, met again and pledged their support to assist Fr. Daniel and I in our role as clergy pastors of our parish. I saw this as a special opportunity to develop a sense of shared ownership of the parish, on the part of the parish’s leadership and its laity. After much prayer, discussion, and reflection upon the direction we as a parish should move in, I’m happy to announce that these lay leaders have pledged their time and talent to continue to assist our parish as we move forward and have formed the new Pastoral Leadership Council of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.
LENTEN LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR YOU: CONFESSIONS will take place at Nativity each Wednesday of Lent from March 13 to April 17th 5 -7PM in the Church. Come and take advantage of this time to learn from our failures and receive healing and restoration for our lives.