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From the Pastor's Desk - February 26, 2012

Dear Parishioners,
As we have begun this Season of Lent, first be aware of some additional prayer opportunities during Lent:
•    On Wednesday evenings there will be a 6:00 PM Mass
•    On Fridays at 6:00 PM there will be Stations of the Cross
•    On Sundays (except for March 11) there will be the opportunity for Confession from 8:15-8:45 AM
•    The First Saturday Mass on March 3rd at 8:00 AM with Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration Following (There will not be a First Saturday Mass in April since this will be Holy Saturday and the only Mass allowed on that day is the evening Easter Vigil Mass)
Of course, those who can attend Mass at 8:00 AM on the weekdays, Monday through Friday, our encouraged to do so.
Pope Benedict in his Wednesday audience on Ash Wednesday reminded Catholics that Lent is the time of conversion:
“In this Catechesis I would like to dwell briefly on the season of Lent, which begins today with the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday. It is a journey of forty days that will lead us to the Paschal Triduum, memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, the heart of the mystery of our salvation.
In the early centuries of the Church this was the time when those who had heard and accepted the message of Christ began, step by step, their journey of faith and conversion to receive the sacrament of baptism. It was a drawing close to the living God and an initiation of the faith to be gradually accomplished, through an inner change in the catechumens, that is, those who wished to become Christians and thus be incorporated into Christ and the Church.
Subsequently, penitents, and then all the faithful were invited to experience this journey of spiritual renewal, to conform themselves and their lives to that of Christ. The participation of the whole community in the different steps of the Lenten path emphasizes an important dimension of Christian spirituality: redemption is not available to only a few, but to all, through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Therefore, those who follow a journey of faith as catechumens to receive baptism, those who had strayed from God and the community of faith and seek reconciliation and those who lived their faith in full communion with the Church, together knew that the period before Easter is a period of metanoia, that is, of inner change, of repentance, the period that identifies our human life and our entire history as a process of conversion that is set in motion now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time.”
So, we are challenged to examine ourselves and to recognize where we need conversion in our lives. Conversion is a life-long journey and the journey of Lent each year reminds us of the need to beseech Christ for the grace to know and admit our sins and to undergo conversion constantly.  We all have our sins, big or small, mortal or venial, of which we need to repent. I hope that all in the parish will receive the sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent, whether here in the parish or at another parish because conversion does not truly and fully happen unless we confess our sins in this sacrament of the Lord’s great mercy.
By the way, for those who utilize Twitter, Pope Benedict will be twitting during Lent. He will send out a twit each day of Lent for reflection. The Twitter site is www.twitter.com/Pope2YouVatican. There's also a Pope2You website with an iPad, iPhone and Facebook application.
Finally, please see the insert from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the bulletin regarding contacting Congress to preserve conscience rights in regards to health care. We should be proud that our Nebraska senators and representatives in Congress are sponsoring The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act that has been introduced in Congress. Write, email, or call them and thank them for this. Also, contact other members of Congress to support this. As I have made clear in the bulletin the last two weeks, the Obama administration, no matter what “compromise” it has offered thus far, still is requiring our Catholic institutions that employ and serve non-Catholics to pay for contraceptives and sterilizations for its employees as well as anyone who operates a business. As I have said, even an individual who owns and operates a company that is not religious is required to pay for such, which in good conscience he or she may not do. This is an issue therefore that we all need to be seriously concerned about and cannot think that it is just going to go away. If Congress does not enact such a law, which will also probably involve having to override a presidential veto, then we will have to pray and hope that the Health and Human Services mandate will be challenged in court and ultimately be thrown out by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional and/or pray for the election of a president who will not trample upon the rights of conscience and religious liberty. As we offer up our prayers and penances during Lent, let one of the intentions for which we do these be that the federal government respect the rights of conscience.
Have a blessed and grace-filled week.
God bless,
Fr. Gutowski

This Week

Prayer Intention for the Week
For the sick: Joyce Cockerill, Kathy Ewing, Harriet Green,  Ted Riha, Duane Poser, Sally Leyden, Chrissy Skinner, Jerry Martin.

ACTIVITIES IN THE PARISH
Tues., Oct. 17, Ladies Guild, 7 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 18, RE, 6:15 p.m.