Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
Continuing on last week’s invitation to Live Lent Together, I want to reflect more deeply on the communal or corporate nature of our spiritual practices in Lent. There are many examples in Scripture of the spiritual benefit of communal penances. Mordecai and all the Jewish people of Susa fast for three days so their people can be spared extermination by the king in the Book of Ester. The Ninevites put on sackcloth and fast for forty days so their city can be spared in the book of Jonah.
The most striking example of the need to walk the penitential path together though comes from Jesus on the path to Calvary. Simon of Cyrene helps him to carry the cross; Veronica wipes his face, his mother, other faithful women, and John the Beloved are with him at the foot of the cross; even the good thief, Dismas, is an aid to him hanging on the cross next to him. The point is that we need to help each other carry our own crosses through prayer and fasting during this season of Lent.
You will find pledge cards in the church this Sunday in which you can specify your own commitment to pray and fast for fellow parishioners this Lent. All of those cards will be placed on the high altar throughout Lent, so that our offerings can be sanctified and offered with Christ at every Mass. Again, I ask you to especially use the Fridays of Lent as a day to fast and pray for fellow parishioners. We will create a Flocknote group for those participating so you can receive special intentions weekly that people would like to keep in prayer. This Lent provides us with a unique opportunity to unite and help each carry the cross in union with Christ. I pray that this Lenten season helps us to grow in spiritual solidarity with each other as the spiritual family of St. Martin of Tours.
As of February 22, Montgomery County has rescinded the mask mandate for indoor gatherings. Parishioners may attend Mass and other events at the parish without a mask. This decision was made because of plummeting case counts and hospitalizations, as well as high vaccination rates. It is left to the discretion of ministers of holy Communion whether they want to wear masks. While no one is required to wear a mask, I know that many people will still wear them. We should continue to be sensitive to each other’s level of comfort at this time. We will continue to refrain from physically giving the sign of peace for the time being, as well as preserving the other protocols for Mass during the pandemic (i.e., no distribution of the precious Blood, hand sanitizing). God willing, in a few months’ time we will be in a place to remove all pandemic protocols.