Parish Lenten Mission

Fr. Dennis Gallagher a.a

Last week at St. Anne St. Patrick Parish in Sturbridge, MA, Fr. Dennis Gallagher, a.a. led a three-night Lenten Mission that was very well attended and based on his book Thy Kingdom Come.

His mission could have been titled “The great good that God desires for us.”

The first night Fr. Dennis discussed beginning the journey of Lent, and how we become a Christian over and over again.  (Pope Benedict.). Prayer, fasting and alms giving are our means of getting close to God and His love.

Forgiveness was addressed, since there is so much emphasis on this during this season, and how we must embrace it.  God forgives us and we must forgive others.  Fr. Dennis said that we are not called to be tolerant of others, but to actively accept others.  Sometimes we lose perspective and do not see the beauty of God’s love and forgiveness.  We need to think of lives in a totally different way – our conversion is metanoia.  Our suffering is always an invitation to trust.  The sacrament of Reconciliation was offered by four Priests after the first mission night.

The second night’s presentation was at the exact middle point of Lent, and Father discussed ways in which we open ourselves up to God’s work in our lives.  Our life is not what we do for God, but recognizing what God does in and through us.  Lent is the time we make room for God; it is not a self-improvement project.  Lent is a desert experience, patterned after Jesus’ forty days in the desert.    We cannot avoid the question ‘who do we serve?’  Father Dennis referenced Bob Dylan’s song, Gotta Serve Somebody.  We are all being called to live a deeper life in our Christian vocations, and we all have a desire for a richer, truly abundant life.

The third night of the Lenten Mission was about our desires for more in our lives. We want more life, a well-ordered life, free from bad habits that prevent our peace.  Joy might be elusive, but it is a by-product of how we live in accordance with God’s will.  If we live otherwise, we do not fulfill the nature given to us.  Pope John Paul II spoke of the “law of the gift,” and how love given to us must be given away if we are to be fully human.  We also all need to let go of some of the things we counted on to give us our sense of identity, such as our job, to become more dependent on God.  We need to understand that the gift of our Baptism is into the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.  The pattern of our lives is already inscribed in us at. Baptism, a pattern to life a life of self-giving surrender to the will of God.

Father Dennis quoted Pope Benedict, the Church is the mutual bearing up of one another.  We are responsible for each other.

Father Dennis also quoted the Confessions of Saint Augustine, all of my hope is nowhere except in Your great mercy. 

As we look forward to Holy Week, we remember why Jesus entered darkness – for our sake.  On the Easter Vigil we see that His suffering has meaning, and it our vocation to love through it all.

Parish Lenten Mission

Parish Lenten Mission