Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With the Fifth Sunday of Lent upon us we are approaching the final week before we begin Holy Week. How will you plan to deepen your faith this Holy Week? Please take a moment to look at your calendar and give yourself the gift of time by putting into your schedule Holy Week, which begins with Passion Sunday, April 13 and especially the Triduum (Holy Thursday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m., Good Friday, April 18 at 3:00 pm, and the Easter Vigil, April 19 at 8:30 pm) to celebrate these high holy days of our faith as we observe the paschal mystery of our God. If you can’t be present, at least give yourself the gift of silence set aside time to simply allow this simple prayer to take hold of you: Jesus draw me closer to you.

Earlier this week Pope Francis encouraged us and all Christian believers to not walk through this life as “tourists” – but rather as pilgrims, moving forward, deepening our life of faith with Christ.

Our Holy Father identified three categories of believers:

-Christians who have faith in God’s promises, seek them and follow them;

-Stationary Christians whose lives are at a standstill and

-Other Christians who are convinced they are moving forward but are just “existential tourists.”

In Pope Francis’ words: “There are other Christians who are ‘tempted to stop.’ So many stationary Christians! We have so many left behind who have a faint hope. Yes, I believe there will be Heaven and all will be well. They do well to believe this, but don’t look for it! They obey the commandments, the precepts: everything, everything. But they are stationary. The Lord cannot make them leaven among His people, because they do not walk. And this is a problem: the stationary. Then, there are others among them and us, who take the wrong road, all of us sometimes take a wrong turn, we know that. The problem is not taking the wrong road, the problem is not turning back when we realize that we are wrong. Lent is a good time to think about whether I am on the move or stationary: convert. Or if I have taken the wrong road, but go to confession and take up the right road. Or if I am a theological tourist, one of these who go around life in circles, but never make a step forward. And I ask the Lord for the grace to     return to the right road, to take up the journey, but towards   the promises,” concluded Pope Francis.

In these final days of Lent, don’t be a tourist — be a pilgrim moving forward, allowing all the experiences of life to have meaning for us in light of the passion of Jesus.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark