Fr. Gerard’s Weekly Column: 3/17/24

Christ, shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I deviate from my tradition of using a portion of the Sunday scripture as a source of meditation for my weekly column and instead, offer a quote from The Breastplate of St. Patrick. A few years ago while watching the news, I saw a reporter in Hoboken, New Jersey, reporting, as the caption on the screen said, “on the beginning of the ‘St. Patrick’s Day Season.’” I had no idea there was such a thing as a “St. Patrick’s Day Season.” And what were the signs of this budding season? Unfortunately, it was obviously inebriated twenty-somethings with their drinking glasses raised behind them. We talk about passing on our faith tradition to our young people; is this the only result of our efforts? I hope not.

While the celebration of St. Patrick and Irish heritage is a noble and important cultural and faith tradition, we don’t truly honor St. Patrick, or the faith tradition passed on by our Irish ancestors, if our celebration is an excuse to drink ourselves silly. I like the idea of a St. Patrick’s Day Season, but it ought to fully reflect what has been passed on to us by this great saint. And that is that Jesus Christ is truly around us in all that we do. Our actions, our decisions, and the way we conduct ourselves ought to be Christ-centered. We use the season of Lent to contemplate when and where we have not lived with the recognition that Christ is around us in all things. Next week, we will begin Holy Week, our final days of preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord, who dies to transform a sinfulness that does not always acknowledge his presence.

Over 20 years ago, I made my first and only trip to Ireland. On our first day, a priest friend suggested we climb a mountain known as Croagh Patrick, also nicknamed The Reek. I imagined us meandering up an emerald green hillside so I agreed to the hike. My presumption was wrong, because climbing The Reek is a traditional penitential experience. As an atonement for their sins, people will climb this steep rocky hill to the traditional spot of St. Patrick’s calling, often barefoot.  Jetlagged, we climbed that horribly difficult mountain in mist and rain, and the walk back down was not any easier. I believe we made it only with God’s help! What greeted us at the bottom of this hill was a traditional Irish pub, where we rewarded ourselves with a pint (or two) of Guinness.

For me, that experience encapsulates a true celebration of Saint Patrick; a difficult struggle with human weakness and meeting the challenge only because Christ is truly around me, followed by a celebration of the victory that Christ has won for and through us. May we all celebrate this “season” of Lent and St. Patrick with hard work and joy for the good that God does for and with us.

FINAL LENTEN MONDAY – I am grateful for the response to these three Lenten Mondays and am thankful to the priests who have led these prayerful nights. Our final night is this Monday, and we are proud to welcome Bishop William Murphy, the Bishop Emeritus of our diocese. Bishop Murphy is looking forward to being here, so please join us on Monday evening. We begin with the Miraculous Medal Novena at 7:15 pm, mass at 7:30 pm with Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to follow.

PARISH LENTEN HOLY HOUR – Fr. Christopher Heller will be our guest presider at this month’s Adoration and Holy Hour on Wednesday at 7:30 pm. When he was a deacon two years ago, Fr. Heller preached here at St. Rose at a Monday Lent mass just prior to his ordination as a priest. We are happy to have him back.

HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SCHEDULE – Please see today’s bulletin for these schedules which contain information about the schedule of masses, morning prayer and confessions over the next few weeks. Please note the special mass times for Easter.