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Lent Explained 2016

Easter Triduum


Easter Triduum

By Steve DeLaney

Asst. Director of Evangelization

At the still point of the turning world.

… Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
— T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"

Our contemporary world is busy, noisy, and ceaseless, and it can be very difficult for us to find time, to make the time, to really experience our faith. To spend time with God, and each other.

The Triduum, the shortest liturgical season of the year, sits at the center of our faith as a profound invitation to experience the love and mercy of God. It is one liturgy, stretched over three days, doing in time what Jesus did with his body – stretching wide over our lives, wide enough so that we can finally experience and trust God’s love.

The Triduum is the central point, the “still point” in the center of our turning world, in the center of the bustle and joys and chaos and griefs of this life. It is one event, one experience, over three days. We need that time, and we need to allow ourselves the gift of that time, so that we can enter deeply into the mystery of the love that saves us. There is wisdom in the duration of this season — three days and lengthy liturgies. It takes time to heal, to grow, and to be transformed. These things cannot be rushed. Against our busy and hurried world, the Triduum invites us into three days of meditation and prayer.

The Foot Washing – Dinah Roe Kendal

The Triduum begins on Holy Thursday. Lent ends with the opening prayers of the Holy Thursday Mass. We celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, and we wash feet, as Jesus did. At the end of Holy Thursday, the Eucharist is removed from the church, and we process out into the Commons for Adoration and Evening Prayer. There are not the usual closing prayers for Mass, as a way of reminding us that the liturgy continues the next day.

On Good Friday, the priest enters and lays prostrate before the cross, in silence. That is how we begin, carrying on with our prayer from the night before. The Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday, though we receive communion reserved from the Holy Thursday Mass. We read the Passion, and we come forward to venerate the Cross. And we leave in silence.

That silence carries us into Saturday evening, the Easter Vigil. The darkness of death is broken by the light of the fire and the Paschal candle. The silence of grief is pierced by the songs of the Resurrection. New members of the body of Christ are baptized and confirmed, and we gather again around the table to receive the bread of life—the promise of resurrection.

The Triduum is the most profound celebration of the mystery of our faith. It is the sacred time that can change how we live in the rest of time. It is, as the Catechism states, the “source of light… [that] fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy.”

We encourage you to, as much as you can, to allow yourself to experience the Triduum this year.

Holy Week at ICC

Palm Sunday - Sun, Mar 20
8:30 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. Mass
5:30 p.m. Vigil Mass (Sat, Mar 19)

Holy Thursday - Thurs, Mar 24
7:00 p.m. Mass

Adoration and Night Prayer to follow immediately

Good Friday - Fri, Mar 25
7:00 p.m. Service

Easter Vigil - Sat, Mar 26
8:00 p.m. Vigil Mass

Easter Sunday - Sun, Mar 27
8:30 a.m. Mass & 11:00 a.m. Mass


Palm Sunday


Palm Sunday

By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

In walking on the Mount of Olives in the Spring of the year, I knew that what I experienced was indeed very different from what Jesus experienced as he rode into Jerusalem on that humble colt. While on my pilgrim trek on this very same hill I found a steep paved road. It is incredibly narrow, even to the point of only allowing one vehicle to travel at a time. The incline calls pilgrims to awareness of each of their steps. Today the road harbors a hand railing embedded in the stone walls on either side of the road. Most days the area is well traveled by both cars and those hearty pilgrims on foot seeking Jesus.  

With very high certainty, this is the path Jesus walked upon in Jerusalem after he was taken away by the guards from the Garden of Gethsemane. (Photo by Greg Thompson, Sep 2015)

This road winds along with Christian Churches dotting the way. One ends this time on the Mount as the Garden of Gethsemane becomes visible along with a busy vehicular intersection. Looking ahead the Dome of the Rock shines in the midday sun not too far ahead in the Old City of Jerusalem.

But what about Jesus, 2000 years ago? No paved road, no hand railings, no churches offering solace. The ground then must have been dry, the air perhaps quite warm and the sand, grit and stones pervasive (as indeed they still are today). Footing so perilous, sliding sandals bringing deliberate and slow steps. Jesus faces torture and death by crucifixion soon. Days of physical pain and mental anguish along with spiritual turmoil lay ahead. He embraced this willingly for us, for each of us. He traveled this slippery hillside toward Jerusalem so he could die and save.

So where is our footing unsure? Where are our doubts and fears? Do we fall on the path due to the stones and pebbles? Is there dirt and grit that lines our heart that keeps the love of Jesus from finding a home? When we step from the steep hillside are we met with the embrace of Jesus who is happy to find us seeking safer paths? He wants us to welcome him into Jerusalem and into our heart anew. In these next few days could we ask God to reveal where those rocks and pebbles are that keep us from being sure of the love of Jesus... 

He is indeed sure… Are we?





By Steve DeLaney, Asst. Director of Evangelization

A few years ago, I heard a missionary priest from the Philippines speak about the poverty in his community. He ended his homily by encouraging us to act to help the poor in a way that helps them believe in the love of God. “Send them a message that God is real!” he exclaimed. I have always remembered those words. One of the privileges of being a Catholic, of being a follower of Jesus, is the opportunity to make God’s love real to others. It is a real privilege.

In his new book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis talks to us about the sacrament of reconciliation: 

“This is a very beautiful thing. It has deep significance because we are social beings. If you are not capable of talking to your brother about your mistakes, you can be sure that you can’t talk about them with God, either, and therefore you end up confessing into the mirror, to yourself.  Confessing to a priest is a way of putting my life into the hands and heart of someone else, someone who in that moment acts in the name of Jesus. It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror.”

It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror.
— Pope Francis, "The Name of God is Mercy"

The profound wisdom behind the sacrament of reconciliation is that it is an opportunity to be real and authentic. It is not easy to sit in front of another person and share with them our sins – our weakness, our failings, our darkness. But the act of doing so is a way of making our sorrow real, of showing our trust that God’s mercy is real. The sacrament of reconciliation does not exist to somehow limit God’s mercy, as a hoop to jump through so that we can be forgiven. God forgives us – but as human beings, we need the opportunities to experience that forgiveness as real, so we are not just staring in the mirror, as the Pope wisely says.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser (who will speak at the Keane Institute in November) writes this statement:

"The Prodigal Son" by Charlie Mackesy

“An honest confession is a non-negotiable step in any healing process. What healing programs have discovered – just when so many of us inside church circles are forgetting it – is that, good as it is, it’s not enough just to be contrite silently in our hearts. Full healing can only take place when we express that contrition not just to God in the secret recesses of the soul, but when we also speak it out, and in detail, to another human being.

We cannot transform our lives by willpower alone, we also need grace and community and both of these, at a point, depend upon the type of transparency that can only come about by honest confession.”

We need to know that forgiveness is real. We need each other. We need the grace that comes to us through a loving community. These needs are not flaws or weaknesses – they are the privileges of the followers of Jesus. We have the opportunity to experience God’s love and mercy made real through other human beings. And we get to share it with each other.

We invite you to share in the sacrament of Reconciliation this Lenten season. The sacrament is offered every Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. A special Taize Penance Service, led by the ICC Choir, will be held this Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. Several area priests will be available.





By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) there are three important times of prayer for our Elect who will be Baptized at the Easter Vigil.  These rites of our Church are called “Scrutinies” and are celebrated at weekend liturgies on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent.  This coincides with the time after our catechumen have been elected by the Church for the Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Here at Immaculate Conception, each of our weekend Liturgies will have one of the Scrutinies celebrated.

Now, in our culture when we hear of being scrutinized and exorcised we may wonder what this means or even turn from it and make haste in another direction.

During the Scrutinies, there are also prayers of Exorcism.  Now, in our culture when we hear of being scrutinized and exorcised we may wonder what this means or even turn from it and make haste in another direction.  There may be negative connotations around these two words.  We may be asking questions like:  Who is being scrutinized?  Why are our Elect being scrutinized?  What does this have to do with me, as I am already Catholic?  And regarding Exorcism, Hollywood may give us a distorted picture which evokes discomfort and even fear.

The grace of new strength is given in this time of their spiritual Journey.

But now here is what the Church tells us of these two prayers of scrutiny and exorcism.  These prayers hope to assist and inspire a desire for purification and redemption by Christ. The progression of these times of reflection and prayer enhance this desire for salvation through the Catholic Church.   The prayers of exorcism frees the Elect from the effects of sin and from the influence of evil.  The grace of new strength is given in this time of their spiritual Journey. 

This time of prayer is not about sinfulness but about the overwhelming grace of God.

For us who are already Catholic, how can we enter more fully into these rites?  As in all Liturgies that celebrate special prayers, perhaps even Sacraments that we are “observers”, we are called and invited to enter fully into this action and prayer of our Church.  So these prayers of Scrutiny and Exorcism are times for us, as well, to allow God to uncover our weakness and sin so that these may be healed and we might be strengthened.  This time of prayer is not about sinfulness but about the overwhelming grace of God.  These Scrutinies with accompanying Exorcisms are indeed focused on our Elect as they prepare to enter the Catholic Church.  However, let us remember that we too journey toward Easter with our eyes fixed on revealing how we grow each day in grace and hope.  These special prayers are meant also for us. 


They (we) open their (our) hearts to you in faith, they(we) confess their (our) faults

And lay bare their (our) hidden wounds.  In your love free them (us) from their (our)

Infirmities, heal their (our) sickness, quench their (our) thirst, and give them (us) peace.

In the power of your name, which we call upon in faith, stand by them (us)

Now and heal them (us).

-Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Prayer of Exorcism [adapted]


Stations of the Cross


Stations of the Cross

By Steve DeLaney, Asst. Director of Evangelization

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional way of meditating on the passion of Jesus, and are often prayed during the Lenten season. The faithful follow Jesus as he carries his cross, using a guided prayer and stopping before images of the Stations in the church. There are many variations on the Stations, and their beginnings are not known. Early Christian legend held that Mary walked the final steps of her son each day in Jerusalem. As early as the 3rd century, visitors to Bethlehem and Jerusalem were praying along sacred sites. The practice of the Stations, as we know it, really grew out of the political conflicts between European Christianity and the expanding Muslim empire across the north of Africa. The Holy Land was no longer easily accessible for Christians on pilgrimage from Europe, and so local shrines were developed, where the faithful could travel along “stations” and pray with Jesus on his journey to the cross. This tradition eventually developed 14 stations, which are found on the walls of Catholic churches today.

For centuries, Catholics have found deep solace in journeying with Christ in the Stations of the Cross. There are many written versions of the prayer, from St. Louis de Montfort’s classic version, to stations written about contemporary issues of justice, and stations written by Popes. Artists find the fourteen images of Jesus on the “Via Dolorosa” deeply compelling, and have blessed us with powerful images of suffering and grace. In Poland, the Catholic Church commissioned a series of Stations to reflect upon the suffering inflicted upon Poland during WWII and Soviet rule until the late 1980s. Built outdoors and sculpted in life size, the stations depict Jesus accompanied by the heroes and martyrs of the Polish church. It is a vivid display of how the Catholics in Poland saw Christ in their suffering. An example, seen here, shows the young priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was martyred by the communist regime.  He is placed in the sixth station as Simon of Cyrene, who carries the cross while Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Another recent example of a beautiful Stations of the Cross is by contemporary artist Virginia Maksymowicz. She created relief images in white plaster using the real faces and limbs of living people, giving a powerful meditation on the reality of the incarnation, and Jesus’ very human suffering. Of particular beauty is her image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she meets her son on the way of the cross (the fourth station). The image carries such grief, and such love.

We invite you to consider praying the Stations of the Cross this Lent. We offer several opportunities (details below), and we hope that you will explore this ancient and sacred prayer. 


Enter into prayer with the Stations of the Cross led on most occasions by Dave Reeves (Diocesan Diaconate Formation program), and others as noted. There are multiple opportunities to attend throughout Lent:

Mon, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Mon, Mar 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Wed, Mar 16 at 9:00 a.m.

Fri, Mar 18 at 7:00 p.m.*

Fri, Mar 25 at 3:00 p.m.**

*Led and reenacted by the Senior Youth Group.

**Good Friday Stations led by Fr. Prince.


Lenten Priorities


Lenten Priorities

By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization

Why Lent

Our observance of Lent takes us on the journey to our greatest celebration in our liturgical year, Easter.  We are called by the Church to a spirit of repentance and reflection about our Baptism and the promises we made or were made for us at our Baptism.  Our catechumen (those journeying to Baptism at the Easter Vigil) are also continuing their steps in the midst of this parish toward the paschal mystery.  Lent may be described as a season of endings and beginnings as we celebrate the mystery of the Cross on which Jesus died and the wonder of beginnings through resurrection and eternal life. Author, Matthew Kelly asks,” Do you need a fresh start?”  Kelly’s prompt to us, “Jesus is the ultimate new beginning”.

Jesus is the ultimate new beginning
— Matthew Kelly, "Rediscover Jesus"


All of us have, at one time or another, named certain things as our priorities. From time to time, when we become aware of our not doing something that is really important, we say, "I have to make that a priority." Lent is an important time to do a top-to-bottom review of what we value and what we actually do in our everyday lives. Whenever we do this, we always discover that something needs re-aligning. We discover that there are values we hold, commitments we've made, growth we desire, that simply don't make it on the list of our "actual priorities" - that is, the things that take the "first place" in our lives. For example, I might say, "My family is my first priority!" My family might say otherwise. I might say, "My faith is among my top priorities." But, an honest self-examination may show otherwise. I may say, I hear the words of Jesus that we will be judged really on only one thing: how we care for "the least" of his sister and brothers. I may only occasionally even notice that feeding, clothing, caring for or defending the marginal never makes it to my priority list.


A thorough review of what is most important to us, and what seems to be important to us by virtue of what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity.  If what we are hoping to do during Lent is to grow in personal freedom, based upon our growing sense of God's love for us, and our clearer vision of who we are, and our deepening desire to be more closely aligned with the heart of Jesus, then we will want to do this personal review very carefully.  How else might we ever hope to get to a heroic, courageous, self-sacrificing service of others?  What chance will care of the poor ever have of making it into our priorities?  How will we ever be able to break old self-defeating habits and secure the establishment of new ones that help us be who we want to actually be?

A thorough review of what is most important to us, and what seems to be important to us by virtue of what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity.

So when we may be considering what we will do for Lent; or considering what we may want to give up during these forty days, let’s look deeply into our priorities and see with Lenten eyes and eyes on Jesus where and how we spend our time and our treasure.  What better time to realign our priorities than this Lent.