A message from Bishop Joseph V. Brennan “Bishop Joe”

February 26, 2020

My Dear Ones in Christ,

Most of us, I am guessing, are wondering about how fast this year is going. It really does seem like ‘yesterday’ when we celebrated the Lord’s birth. In the previous edition of ‘Catholic Life’ I remember sharing with you a few of my own Christmas memories and those I live and work with already know that to say that I like to hold on to the Christmas season would be putting it mildly. I love everything about that season. I love the music, the food the decorations. I can’t wait for it to begin and get more than a little sad when it ends. Having said that, I am also keenly aware of the act that Christmas is just part of the story, that is, it is only the beginning. To put it simply, Christmas celebrates that fact THAT he came. Easter celebrates WHY he came. As they say, Jesus is the reason for the season. I would add that Easter is the reason for it all!

Our forty days of Lent are that essential time of prayer and penance. It is that time in our life as individuals before God and as a community of faith to examine our consciences well, to literally do a 180 degree turn in our life and not the 360 degree turns that find us ending up where we started. Wasn’t that the message each of us heard when we received the sign of the cross on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday? It most certainly was: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel!” In that spirit of repentance many of us will be going to Confession or have already done so and children all over the world will be making their First Confession as they prepare for First Communion. I am reminded of a first confession from years ago. It took place right after a 2nd grader had finished his very first confession with me. He came back into the confessional to ask me if 1st graders needed to go to confession too. I know enough ‘theology’ to tell him that, “No, you have to be at least 7 years old like yourself before you can go to confession.” He seemed really disappointed at my answer as he told me, “Well, that’s too bad because my little brother really needs to go!”

Brothers and sisters, we all need to go. We all need to turn our lives around. We have sinned and we have hurt people, both as individuals and as a Church. We must ask for forgiveness always and make that firm purpose of amendment, that is, to do things differently. Here is a simple prayer to help us to engage in the penance and to celebrate the Feast of Easter:

Almighty and everlasting God,
You have given the human race Jesus Christ our Savior as a model of humility.
He fulfilled Your will by becoming man and giving His life on the Cross.
Help us to bear witness to You by following His example of suffering.
Make us worthy to share in His Resurrection.
We ask this through Our
Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. AMEN!

Have a simply joyous Easter season!

In Christ,
Bishop Joe