Twilight Twitches

Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
So, are we on “Retreat” this week or are we on a “Mission?” The words seem almost opposed. When I was a kid “mission” was the big word; the men’s mission, then the women’s mission – each lasting a full week. During those two weeks the kids in school got a mission during the day, too. We loved it. Anything to get out of class, even if it was a pretty strong-voiced (usually Redemptorist) preacher who we called the “missioner.”

Merriam-Webster says retreat means withdrawing from the unpleasant or ceasing warfare and only then speaks of retreat as a spiritual exercise.

When it comes to mission, the dictionary offers a religious meaning as its first billing, “a course of sermons and services given to convert the unchurched or quicken Christian faith, e.g. a preaching mission.

So, in the next three days, Monday through Wednesday, are we to be converted or quickened? I suspect it’s a little of both. That’s my prayer.

fetscherDear Family,
Rejoice! As you probably know by now, the color is rose because I don’t do pink.
More importantly, the visible color shift in our liturgical vestments asks us to check up on the invisible attitude of our hearts as we journey through Lent. How are you doing?    

Is the P(rayer), F(asting) and A(lmsgiving) Challenge helping us remember who we are (sinners) and what Jesus has done for us (Easter kids)? Are we focusing on the glory of the Lord that is coming?

Well, here’s help!

fetscherDear Family,
As I write this Twitch on Monday the 26th, it’s stunning to think that our Parkland heartbreak happened only 12 days ago. And yet it continues with an intensity that makes it feel like two minutes ago. I suspect you’ll be feeling the same way as you read this.

I remember the title of a book I read more than 50 years ago, Edwin O’Connor’s The Edge of Sadness. It’s not the book, but the title that describes me right now. I feel like I’m on the edge of a large pool filled with the roiling waters of sadness, almost too large to contemplate, the sadness of the shooting itself, kids’ funerals, blame games, political stupidity, social insensibility...for starters.

fetscherDear Family,
When I wrote about The PFA Challenge for last Sunday’s Twitch, I had no idea what kind of a challenge it might turn out to be. I suspect you didn’t either. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

More than ever, we need to be at a place where we can let God in through prayer.

We need to be “fasting” from letting horrible news subtly demand all our attention as though it was the only thing worthy of attention.

Bad news has a way seizing our attention with a chokehold that won’t let go. As we stand opened-mouthed in shock over another ‘inconceivable’, we fill up with so much: anger, rage, sadness, helplessness, pity, frustration...
When our hearts are submerged in our reactions to the unthinkable, our charity runs the risk of drowning as well. We can’t offer the charity of our love because it got crowded out..

fetscherDear Family,
So how did your smudginess turn out? If you’re a visitor, don’t worry. You’re not supposed to know that smudge means ashes. I hoped that seeing someone marked with ashes would help me remember to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

I’m always amazed how many people come for ashes (and the palms that make them). Is it that we need something tangible to hold on to?  Whatever it takes, once again, we want to accept the challenge of Lent. During the first half of Lent, we look at ourselves. In the second half we look at Jesus and what his life and death means for us. Looking at ourselves with honestly will make it easier for us to see Jesus clearly. How do we do that? We “do” Lent!

fetscherDear Family,
We begin Lent on Wednesday. We will celebrate Mass at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and distribute ashes after each of the celebrations. We will also have some small envelopes with ashes which you may bring home for folk who are unable to attend Mass through illness, etc.

The person who marks your forehead with the ashes challenges us gently by saying, “Repent and  believe in the gospel.” Another longstanding option is, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I like the first option better because at this stage of my life, I want to think about preparing to meet the Lord, not becoming a pile of dust. After all, ‘gospel’ means ‘good news.’ The good news is that I am loved by God.  In the gospel, God, through Jesus, is constantly sending an invitation of love. For us on Ash Wednesday, the invitation is reflected in the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel.”

fetscherDear Family,
No words will express the gratitude I’ve been feeling every since the descent of the Irish upon the parish in the persons of Phil Coulter, Andy Cooney, and their gifted troop. Then add to that the Shepherd’s Pie from the Kitchens of Waxy O’Connor’s and you have the makings of a great time. And yes, it was had by all.

Thank you Mark and Noreen Rohleder, (Waxy’s shepherds) for your kindness in providing a great meal. Someone even made a couple of special ‘tubes’ of the leftover dinner which I thoroughly enjoyed on the weekend.

You wouldn’t think that those crazy Latins Sue and Scott Martinez would get into the Irish thing so well, but they brought their generosity into setting up the kitchen and shuffling trays of food all around.

fetscherDear Family,
Week after week, there are few things more than writing the Twitch ahead of time that remind me about how we never know what is coming. Somehow, I must write about things that haven’t happened as though they had. I can just hear someone out there saying, “Poor baby. If that’s the only problem he’s got, he should be doing jigs down the center aisle.” Trust me, you’ll never see that happening.

Of course, I’m thinking about the great night we had/will have with Phil Coulter and Andy Cooney. Presumption? Judging from the distances people travelled to join us, I expect the Irishmen and women who formed the company did not disappoint with their performance.

We know Andy from past years and having him teamed up with Phil is a special event indeed. It will be (was) a personal pleasure to see ‘live’ Phil’s piano wizardry.

fetscherDear Family,
This weekend - the 20th to be precise, we celebrate the feast of St. Sebastian, our patron. Until I came here in 2010, I really did not know very much about him at all. I remember seeing statues and images, usually with a lot of arrows. As a kid I think the few times I saw Sebastian portrayed, I thought it was a little weird. But I wasn’t stupid enough to say that out loud.

If you want an interesting little adventure, ‘google’ “St Sebastian” There’s a short video from the Catholic Online people that I think does a nice job of piecing together Sebastian’s story. Sometimes separating the fable from the fact is hard. The bottom line is Sebastian’s heroism in the face of the emperor Diocletian’s evil, not once but twice. His martyrdom is dated to 288 and it didn’t take long for his fame to spread. Less than 100 years later, in Milan, St. Ambrose speaks of Sebastian and what a great example of faith we can find in his life.

fetscherDear Family,
We kept the decorations up until last week’s feast of the Epiphany. After all, that’s what the word means: to show, to make conspicuous, to shine.

The old man Simeon has been waiting for the messiah and here he comes in the arms of Mary. Simeon thanks God, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.” (Luke 2:30-2)

We associate the three magi with the feast because they represent the Gentiles who “saw the star and then saw the light.” That’s a good reason to keep up the lights and the decorations.

A week later, the decorations are down and we begin “ordinary time.” Now the child in Mary’s arms is a man. This year it is Mark’s turn to tell us about what Jesus said and did. However, since Mark’s gospel is shorter than the others, it gets supplemented by John, and that’s why we hear from John today.

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