From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy:
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is the feast that focuses on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In our faith tradition, it marks the beginning of Holy Week during which we commemorate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
Last year, Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter’s Square. At the Mass, he encouraged people to be young at heart. He also encouraged the faithful to reach out to the poor, the forgotten, and others who do not seem to matter in the eyes of the world. In subsequent discussions, he has often spoken about the need to strengthen the bonds of the family. We see these messages being embraced in the father and son mission trip being led by Father Josh. These fathers and sons and their coordinators have spent the last nine days assisting the poor in Peru by providing food, clothing, and shelter for those in great need. They have worked hard and hopefully have bonded in a special way with the people they have served, and with each other. They return today and we pray that they have been greatly enriched by this Lenten experience.
Pope Francis, in his first year as Pope, has also focused on the need for conversion and spiritual renewal. He has stressed the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During a recent Lenten address, he said that conversion is a lifetime commitment and urge the faithful to frequently avail themselves of the Sacrament. This Sacrament is not here to punish us, but rather to bring us closer to the Lord who loves us and took on the weight of our sins on the cross. We are challenged to acknowledge our sinfulness, rather than rationalize or excuse it. We can then turn to the Lord and ask for his pardon, mercy, and forgiveness. A few weeks ago, at a Penance Service, the Pope humbly asked another priest to hear his confession. He once again set a good example for his flock.
As we reflect on the words and actions of Pope Francis, we are reminded that this upcoming week is the holiest week in the Church year. It is a special time; it is an important ….. time spiritually. We are invited to make the most of this time. Please carefully review the schedule of our liturgical services for the week and plan to participate in as many services as possible. Details can be found in the Parish bulletin and on the Parish website.
Today, as we celebrate and experience the joy of Palm Sunday, as we shout “Hosanna”, we are challenged to heed the example of Our Holy Father and humbly serve others and strive to embrace a spirit of conversion and renewal as we continue and persevere on our Lenten journey of faith.