March 5, 2023


On Ash Wednesday (February 22), we heard in the first reading of Masses and our scripture services a reading from the Book of the Prophet Joel, "Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children...." (Joel 2:12-18). I must admit, right from the opening of the doors of the church on Ash Wednesday and until they were closed hours later, "the congregation", the number of people who came to St. Peter's to receive ashes, attend Mass, celebrate confession, and pray in church surpassed the expectation of myself and the entire church staff. It was a moving experience to see so many people, and especially young adults, coming to St. Peter's and beginning the season of Lent. Though it was cold, raining and rather unpleasant outside, it was heartening to see the faith of many of you who came to church on Ash Wednesday.

I want to publicly express my THANKS to all our hard-working St. Peter's staff members, both lay and friars for their work on Ash Wednesday. Thanks also to our volunteers who helped keep everything going smoothly throughout the day. The generosity of so many people who contributed financially to the support of St. Peter's ministry continues to enable us to keep our doors open and provide a variety of ministry here in the Loop. Through the generosity of those who gave on Ash Wednesday, your donation of $13,846 will help us to continue our ministry here in the Loop.

As we begin this second week of Lent, I encourage you to participate in the various Lenten services we offer, attend daily Mass, pray the Stations, come to Adoration, celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), join in one of our noon-time Lenten programs or come out of the noise and hustle of the Loop and be at peace in the stillness of the church throughout the day. If you are looking for some good spiritual reading check out the many books in our book store. Ask me, one of the book store staff or one of the friars for our Lenten book recommendations.

May God be with all of you who come here to St. Peter's and place yourself in the presence of the Lord this Lenten Season.

In his Message for Lent 2023, Pope Francis reflects upon the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. It is an experience that is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The story of the Transfiguration is read every year on the Second Sunday of Lent. I offer you some excerpts below from the Pope's message. I also encourage you to read the entire Lenten message of Pope Francis that you can find on the Vatican website.

During this liturgical season, the Lord takes us with him to a place apart. While our ordinary commitments compel us to remain in our usual places and our often repetitive and sometimes boring routines, during Lent we are invited to ascend “a high mountain” in the company of Jesus and to live a particular experience of spiritual discipline – as God’s holy people.

Lenten penance is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the way of the cross. This is precisely what Peter and the other disciples needed to do. To deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation, accomplished in total self-giving inspired by love, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity. We need to set out on the journey, an uphill path that, like a mountain trek, requires effort, sacrifice and concentration. These requisites are also important for the synodal journey to which, as a Church, we are committed to making. We can benefit greatly from reflecting on the relationship between Lenten penance and the synodal experience.

In his “retreat” on Mount Tabor, Jesus takes with him three disciples, chosen to be witnesses of a unique event. He wants that experience of grace to be shared, not solitary, just as our whole life of faith is an experience that is shared. For it is in togetherness that we follow Jesus. Together too, as a pilgrim Church in time, we experience the liturgical year and Lent within it, walking alongside those whom the Lord has placed among us as fellow travelers. Like the ascent of Jesus and the disciples to Mount Tabor, we can say that our Lenten journey is “synodal”, since we make it together along the same path, as disciples of the one Master. For we know that Jesus is himself the Way, and therefore, both in the liturgical journey and in the journey of the Synod, the Church does nothing other than enter ever more deeply and fully into the mystery of Christ the Saviour.

The Lenten journey of penance and the journey of the Synod alike have as their goal a transfiguration, both personal and ecclesial. A transformation that, in both cases, has its model in the Transfiguration of Jesus and is achieved by the grace of his paschal mystery. So that this transfiguration may become a reality in us this year, I would like to propose two “paths” to follow in order to ascend the mountain together with Jesus and, with him, to attain the goal.

The first path has to do with the command that God the Father addresses to the disciples on Mount Tabor as they contemplate Jesus transfigured. The voice from the cloud says: “Listen to him” (Mt. 17:5). The first proposal, then, is very clear: we need to listen to Jesus. Lent is a time of grace to the extent that we listen to him as he speaks to us. And how does he speak to us? First, in the word of God, which the Church offers us in the liturgy. May that word not fall on deaf ears; if we cannot always attend Mass, let us study its daily biblical readings, even with the help of the internet. In addition to the Scriptures, the Lord speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, especially in the faces and the stories of those who are in need. Let me say something else, which is quite important for the synodal process: listening to Christ often takes place in listening to our brothers and sisters in the Church. Such mutual listening in some phases is the primary goal, but it remains always indispensable in the method and style of a synodal Church.

On hearing the Father’s voice, the disciples “fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone” (Mt 17:6-8). Here is the second proposal for this Lent: do not take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily struggles, its hardships and contradictions. The light that Jesus shows the disciples is an anticipation of Easter glory, and that must be the goal of our own journey, as we follow “him alone”. Lent leads to Easter: the “retreat” is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope and love, and thus to arrive at the resurrection. Also on the synodal journey, when God gives us the grace of certain powerful experiences of communion, we should not imagine that we have arrived – for there too, the Lord repeats to us: “Rise, and do not be afraid”. Let us go down, then, to the plain, and may the grace we have experienced strengthen us to be “artisans of synodality” in the ordinary life of our communities.


This weekend at our Masses, we take up a second collection to help support the Church in Central & Eastern Europe. Though communism fell over 30 years ago, the Church continues to struggle to restore the practice of our Catholic faith in this area. Your support of this collection helps those affected by the war in Ukraine and helps support the Church to reach out to those in need. Envelopes and brochures are also available at the entrance to church for your donation.


Fr. Michael