March 31, 2019 – The Fourth Sunday of Lent

I.  WELCOME!  Parish Faith Formation: as you know, since Donna Murphy decided last year to go very part-time (10 hours per week) as Director of Faith Formation, we have been limping along. I am delighted to announce that I have called forth two qualified candidates who will be working with our parish faith formation:

       Rick Rhodes will be Director of Adult Ministries:  born and raised in Whitesville, Rick graduated from Trinity High School in 1969, married his high school sweetheart, Freda, in 1970; they have three sons, Shawn, Cory, and Nathan, who attended Catholic elementary and high school in Owensboro, and have eight perfect grandkids! Freda spent 15 years as a stay-at-home mom before beginning a 28 year career at Chase Bank from which she retired in 2015. Rick spent 30 plus years in retail, 20 of which as general manager at Mudd’s Furniture before beginning his 12 year career in ministry at Saints Joseph & Paul Church as Outreach Coordinator. His duties included: coordinator of RCIA, Journey Home, and Eucharistic Ministers to homebound parishioners through Ministry of Praise. He led staff prayer and assisted with staff retreats, organized small and large Scripture study groups, Tri-Parish Mission, Couples in Christ retreat, served on the Block Party committee, assisted with art and environment for church and parish office, designed flyers, postcards, prayer cards etc. for parish events. “I am very excited to share what God has done in my life and am anxious to help the parishioners at St. Stephen Cathedral grow in their relationship with Jesus.”

        Hannah Bland will direct Children’s Ministries. Also from Whitesville, Kentucky, she is the youngest of three children. Hannah graduated from Whites-ville Trinity High School and will graduate from Brescia University in May with a Bachelors of Art in Theology, and completed her internship here at Saint Stephen Cathedral. She has also ministered at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center for the past three summers as a summer staff member and weekend Program Director.  Hannah said she is “excited to be ministering at the Cathedral and excited about becoming part of the parish.”

II.  The Desert, The Mountain, The Fig Tree. . . . .

—On the first Sunday of Lent, we were invited into the DESERT to embrace our demons and know that God’s Grace is sufficient. Notice Jesus confronted each temptation with Words of Scripture!

—On the second Sunday of Lent, we were invited up the MOUNTAIN, Mount Tabor, to get a glimpse of Jesus divinity. Our mountaintop experiences will support and fortify us during tough times in the valley, where life is lived.

—The FIG TREE, in last Sunday’s gospel (third Sunday of Lent), represents us. The gardener begs that the fruitless fig tree be given another chance before it is cut down. What do I need to do to bear good fruit?

—This fourth Sunday of Lent (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32) embraces a theme consistent with Pope Francis’ constant mantra, which we hear Jesus challenge, teach, and encourage. The parable of the prodigal son (or perhaps, the “extravagant father”) appears only in the gospel according to Luke. The wasteful son’s gold and disrespectful request—one third of the father’s property BEFORE he is deceased—is shocking for its content and for the father’s response. Even when we abuse our freedom, wander far from the ways of God, we can be restored and forgiven.

III.  Blooms of beauty will help enhance our worship space for Holy Thursday, Easter Vigil, and throughout the Easter season. These flowers may be donated “in memory of” a loved one that has gone before you or “in honor of ” someone whom you would like to pay respect to now. We will have a list published in our Sunday bulletin after Easter. Thank you for your generosity.

IV.  First Friday—Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration: Enhance your Lenten Season and make it a practice to carry forward; join us for First Friday Devotions on Thursday, April 4 at 5:30pm with confessions from 4:30-5:30pm (new time). Join us every Thursday before First Friday.

V.  What is a Scrutiny? The primary ritual for the elect (those who are unbaptized and seeking entrance into the Catholic Church) during this season of Lent is the celebration of three scrutinies. Each scrutiny is designed to “uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful. . . and to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good” (RCIA, 141). Celebrated on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays, these purifying, cleansing rites are so important that there is a special ritual Mass in the Missal with unique prayers. As a community, we are given the opportunity to pray and reflect on what is sinful and in need of healing in our own personal lives and in the parish community.