Keeping time…Sacred was indeed what we did at the Lenten retreat that we held this week with John Angotti. While the storms raged in our neighborhood and everyone around us lost power, we were fortunate to have electricity at the parish and so we were able to proceed with a powerful retreat about the preciousness of time. The evenings were recorded and you can view them here.


On Monday night, John and I discussed  how sacred our time here really is. None of us know how much time we have left, we are all given  24 hours each day but we don’t know what day is our last. We talked about needing to be more conscious of the way we use our time and not waste our time on things that are not in our priorities. In order to do this, I invited everyone to write down how they are spending their time each day in ½ hour increments for several days and to evaluate those time slots as to how they are aligned to our priorities of God, family and life-giving activities. The color code was: green – effective use of time, yellow – in between/neutral or red – ineffective use of time. Here is the link to the handout time inventory.


I asked people to find some soft spots in the use of their time, to find some time for God and prayer, for family and friends, for creating memories now with people we love so as to allow those memories to pay dividends for years to come. We talked about trying to change our time into more green, being more centered around God, because we can  move through our day doing things and having interactions by being mindful of God in our lives. We acknowledge that most of us know what the most important things in life are, but we need some more inspiration and help in choosing to spend our time on those items now. That is the “why” of Lent every year—to help us to keep time…sacred once again. We talked about this annual journey of conversion and turning back to God as a necessary time for us each year. One of the biggest challenges is to let go of old hurts and wounds, to forgive and move on from the past. 


I used a metaphor to explain the journey of letting go of our past hurts. Imagine that we have a large thorn in our forearm. The choice before us is to leave the thorn in there or take it out. If we take it out we are in more immediate pain but we no longer have the thorn. It seems obvious to take out the thorn but many of us leave the thorn in their arm. So imagine, if we leave this large thorn in our arm, we then need to adjust our clothes so that they don’t snag and cause pain. Then we realize when we go for a walk that the thorn might get snagged in the edges of the trees in the forest, so we cut all the trees down to accommodate our thorn. Later, when we touch people, we realize  that the thorn will snag them so we come up with a new way to hug people using just one side of us and then we go out for a drive and it is awkward driving our car with the thorn in our arm, so we adjust the car steering to accommodate the thorn. Finally, we have adjusted every aspect of our lives to accommodate the thorn in our forearm and we maintain that we are now free of the pain of our thorn. 


However, isn’t it the truth that instead of freedom we are now more consumed than ever? We are not free at all, but we have adjusted every aspect of our lives to accommodate the thorn. We think we are free, but we are not.  This can be true in our spiritual lives when we hold onto past hurts and refuse to forgive others the wrong they have done to us, or the wrong we have done to ourselves. When we refuse to forgive, we leave the thorn in our forearm and adjust every aspect of our lives to accommodate that pain. 


In Lent we are called to pull out the thorns of past hurts and be truly free. We are called to forgive and let go. The healing can only truly happen when we forgive the past and allow the divine physician to heal our wounds. That time is now, and it is the time for metanoia, the time of conversion, the time to turn back to God.


We concluded our retreat on Wednesday night with a very powerful Taize Prayer Service and we had three parishioners share witness talks about the importance of being open to God’s time and love now. We had Diane Lue, who is just 18 years old, share how her faith was impacted by this community and how she finds goodness and grace in playing music in the 5pm Sunday night Mass. Then Christine Moore shared the grace of seeing God in the darkness of life and how darkness is a natural resource and how family and love are bright lights that shine in the darkened world. Marian Marren shared how precious time is especially when you get older and the value of creating memories with family and her faith community of 60+ years. All three gave incredible witness to how God has worked in their lives. 


They were so powerful I have asked all three of them to share their witness on  Sunday for the next three weeks at the 4-minute time slot. This will help us close our Lenten journey  on Passion Sunday and hopefully inspire each of us to keep time sacred for the rest of Lent… and beyond.


I want to thank everyone who helped in the retreat especially Jurgen Krehnke and Tim Peterson on the technology, especially because we had so many rely on the livestream, who watched from their phones as the power was out. I am also deeply grateful to Clare D’Agostino and Rachel Haydon for their support in materials for the retreat and for the beautiful environment for the Taize Prayer Service on Wednesday. It takes a village to put these events on. Thank you.


Finally, I ask you to please commit to the ADA. I always struggle with the timing of the ADA as it coincides with our Lenten journey and it seems to be a distraction of our spiritual journey, but the truth be told, it is a necessary annual process for us to share our financial support with the rest of the local Church of our Diocese. Please if you have not already committed, please do so now by donating here. If every family gives a little, then we will easily make our goal. So please support our local Church in being a strong community of faith for all who seek help.


God bless,


Fr. Brendan