I know there has been much concern from parishioners about the friars here at St. John’s who had tested positive. I have good news all have recovered and are well. We thank you for your concern and prayers.
Unfortunately, I have sad news, Father Reginald Russo, one of our friars passed away Monday night from the virus. Father Reginald was the brother of Father Francis Russo who was pastor here at St. John’s a number of years ago.
As you and I come to celebrate today’s liturgy we find ourselves in a different environment one that should make us feel a little different: the altar and ambo (pulpit) and other parts of the church are dressed in purple, the vestment the priest is wearing is purple. We have begun the sacred season of Lent, a time of repentance, a time to consider the invitation of the Lord to “come back to me with all your heart.”
Lent should not be a gloomy time but one of joy, a time that should be uplifting for you and me. It is a grace-filled season so rich in what it offers us spiritually: it is a time to listen more attentively to the Lord speaking to our hearts, a time to learn how to love Jesus more deeply and to pray that more people come to believe in Him. It is a time of grace given to us drawing us closer to the Lord and freeing us from the sins that so easily cling to us; Lent can be, if we want it to be, a time of real transformation, a time to respond to the Lord’s invitation to “come back to me with all your heart”.
The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is al-ways about the temptations of Christ. One of the ways we come back to the Lord with all our hearts is by saying “no” to bad temptations. I have several helpful suggestions framed with the statement: “Give into temptations!”
Give into the temptation to:
be more forgiving
be more attentive to living out the Gospel
be more charitable
be more compassionate
be more loving
be more Christ-like
be more accepting of others
refrain from being judgmental
refrain from gossiping
be more prayerful
give in to the temptation to refrain from placing myself in a situation that would cause me to sin
One of the practices of Lent is almsgiving. In addition to your own way of helping the poor and/or the work of the Church, we have Lenten Coin Folders: a quarter a day for the 40 days of Lent; the funds donated will benefit St. John’s. The folders can be found in the back of the upper and lower churches and at the parish office.
Historical Preservation Endowment Fund
Thank you for all you do for our parish and for your commitment to ensure that St. John’s is “Good News in the Heart of Philadelphia.” Stay safe and healthy.