Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I think it is safe to say that none of us imagined on Ash Wednesday how challenging our Lenten pilgrimage of Faith would be this year. On that day we were asked to focus on the quality of our life of prayer and the priority it should have in our daily routine, but no one anticipated that the public celebration of Holy Mass and devotions would be suspended. How fortunate for us that the Cathedral remains open daily for private prayer before the Lord in the Tabernacle where we may adore Him with contrite and humble hearts. We are further blest by being invited to make a spiritual Communion with the Lord as He is made present to the world whenever Mass is celebrated.
On Ash Wednesday, we were encouraged to make an honest examination of our
consciences and bring our wounded souls to the Divine Physician for His healing mercy to transform our lives and give us the grace for a firm desire to amend our sinful ways. Once again, none of us expected the public invitation to Reconciliation to be postponed. Thanks be to God that one may still request their confession to be heard by a priest and receive absolution in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. God’s mercy truly is everlasting!
We were asked to be generous in our almsgiving, particularly to our Lenten Project of Catholic Social Services of Montana which is the adoption agency for both the Diocese of Helena and the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings. We expressed the hope of helping a family by providing prayerful and financial assistance for them as they welcome a new child into their hearts and home by contributing towards the costs associated with the adoption process. You have continued your generous stewardship to this project and to our Parish by your donations that come from your sacrifices for the well-being of others. The virtue of Charity in your hearts and families has proven to be immune to the temptation to think only of personal needs and is very much alive and well in your lives!
Remember that for forty days and forty nights the Lord was tested in the vast solitude of the desert where He was exposed daily to its harshness while He fasted and prayed through and for the consolation of the Holy Spirit. He sought the strength to offer Himself as the unblemished Lamb of God for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. While in that lonely place He was tempted to care only for the next meal by changing a rock into bread, but He knew not to live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus was tempted to put God to the test which He refused to do by not choosing some carnival-like display of His divinity. Rather, He remained like us in all things but sin to save us from sin’s power. Still again, He was tempted by the devil to worship the Evil One just once so as to be afforded all the riches of the world, but so deep was His love for the Father and for us that He faithfully proclaimed and professed the one true God alone. He remained the beloved of the Father.
In these remaining days of Lent and in these challenging times let us continue to focus on prayer, especially for those who suffer from physical, spiritual, and emotional needs and illnesses. Let us pray for those who seek to bring them healing and comfort and love. Let us pray for those who govern, that the good council of the Holy Spirit be with them. Let us pray for those researching for a cure to the virus and for all health care providers. Let us remember to God’s mercy those who have no one to pray for them, that they be touched by Christ’s loving embrace as well. Let us continue to make ready the way of the Lord into our lives through humble and contrite hearts that turn from the darkness of fear, confusion, and sin to the Light of Christ that cannot be extinguished or overcome. Let us be generous in our concern for others by helping relieve their fears and carry their burdens with faithful and hope-filled joy in the Lord. And if and when we are put to the test under these extraordinary conditions of daily life, may we trust in Jesus as we ask for God’s help and protection and for the intercession of the angels and Saints, especially that of Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and Saint Helena.
Finally, let us remember those who have died and gone before us in Faith, and all who have died in God’s mercy, that they may be glad and rejoice in His Peace forever.
I join my prayers with those of Father Scheidecker, Deacon Bob, and all your Cathedral Staff for your health and well-being, and I want to let you know how much you are missed and kept in our thoughts with the great expectation of that day when the Cathedral bells greet the Lord and each of you as one body, one spirit in Christ – joyfully proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and receiving His most precious Body and Blood.
Amen and Amen!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Kevin O’Neill
Pastor/Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Helena Parish.