Tag Archives: Lent

The Transfiguration: A Glorious Moment to Encourage Jesus

February 23, 2018

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As we begin Lent, we look ahead to the end of Lent and the celebration of the Paschal Mystery during the Sacred Triduum, the commemoration of the Passion, death, and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

At the midpoint of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus predicted to his disciples that this would take place: “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days” (Mk 8:31).

This alarming news shocked his disciples, but it was far worse for Jesus. Jesus had seen crucifixions before. He knew how cruel the Romans could be. The thought that he would have to endure something so ghastly and excruciating was dreadful, almost intolerable. Jesus understood that a person has to take up his cross (see Mk 8:34) and that a person has to lose his life to save it (see Mk 8:35). For Jesus, his words of advice to his disciples were not just religious slogans or pious platitudes; they would be a brutally harsh reality for him. It rocked him to the core. It would make a person stop in his tracks. It was time to reassess. How could he possibly carry on? It was a decisive moment, a moment of decision. Jesus wondered, “Shall I continue with my mission or shall I abandon the plan?” It was time to recommit.

His Father in heaven intervened. Jesus went up a high mountain and was transfigured. His clothes became dazzling white, like no robes on earth, only the robes in heaven. Moses and Elijah appeared, visitors from heaven. A cloud enveloped them, as a cloud surrounds all of the angels and saints in heaven. A voice was heard that came from heaven. Just when Jesus was tempted not to endure the suffering to come (see Mk 8:32b,33), the Father gave his Son timely help, a glimpse of heaven, a vision of the glory in store for him, the place where he would return and reign in majesty for all eternity, if he would only endure the hardships that lay ahead.

This glorious moment gave Jesus the boost he needed. He was more determined than ever to make the journey to Jerusalem. Without further delay, which the building of tents would have caused (Mk 9:5), he descended the mountain, and encouraged by his Transfiguration, even though he knew that untold torment and affliction were in his future, after having basked in glory only briefly, he could see that the Son of Man would also rise from the dead (Mk 9:9b).

The Father gave the Son a glorious moment to help him persevere, to let him know that there would be a glorious reward on the other side of his trials and tribulations. The Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in Israel commemorates this event, and there is a beautiful mosaic in the dome of the apse above the high altar that depicts Jesus in radiant glory.

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Prayer for the Sacred Paschal Triduum

April 7, 2017

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Resurrection

The three days of the Sacred Paschal Triduum are the three holiest days of the year:  Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.  They celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ, the central mysteries of our faith, both the Passion, his suffering and death, and the Resurrection, his glorious triumph over sin and the grave.

Every day is a day for prayer, but the Triduum stands above all other days as three special days for prayer.  It is a time to enter these profound mysteries.  There are two principle ways to pray during this time, communal liturgical prayer at church and personal private prayer, and both are highly recommended.

There are three sacred liturgies over these days:  the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, the Passion of our Lord on Good Friday, and the Resurrection of the Lord, first celebrated at the Easter Vigil and then also at the Masses on Easter Sunday morning.  If there ever was a time to go to church to pray, it is on these three days.  It is extremely important to make prayerful participation in these liturgies a top spiritual priority.

The other indispensable way to pray during these three days is personal private prayer.  Our lives are so hectic.  There are so many things to do and so many places to go.  And our lives are so noisy.  We talk, talk, talk, and the noise is amplified by television, radio, and all sorts of music media.  If there ever was a time to be silent and still, it is on these three days.   Turn off the TV or radio.  Set the gadgets aside.  Reserve the time.  Find a quiet place.  Center yourself.  Focus on God and listen, listen, listen.

There are a number of other special ways to prayerfully participate in the Triduum.  On Holy Thursday, at the conclusion of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession through the church and then transferred to another place where it is reposed, so one option is to spend a period of time in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.  During the Last Supper Jesus gave his final words of instruction to his disciples, so it would be timely to reflect upon his Last Supper Discourse, John 13:31 to 16:33.  After teaching the disciples, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, so it would be an opportune time to ponder the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, John 17:1-26.  After the Last Supper Jesus went to Gethsemane, so it would be appropriate to pray the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden.  Finally, mindful of the footwashing, it is the perfect day to pray about God’s call to humble service.

Good Friday is a solemn and somber day.  Fasting and abstinence set a prayerful tone.  The scourging at the pillar and the crowning of thorns took place on Good Friday morning, so it would be good to pray the Second and Third Sorrowful Mysteries.  Jesus hung upon the Cross for three hours, so an extended period of silent prayer between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. is an excellent option.  During these three hours, or at any time on Good Friday, special ways to pray include reading the Passion, John 18:1-19:42; the completion of the Sorrowful Mysteries; the Stations of the Cross; a prayerful reading of the Suffering Servant Canticles (Is 42:1-4; 49:1-7; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12) or the seven Penitential Psalms (Ps 6; 32; 38; 51; 102, 130; 143); and to offer prayer for the Church, the world, and all those in need.  It is an ideal time to pray with a Cross, either before a crucifix or to take one in hand, to venerate it, and to gaze upon Jesus’ crucified body and to ponder the meaning of his redemptive suffering and death.

Holy Saturday is a day to keep vigil.  As Mary Magdalene kept watch at the tomb in somber silence, it is a time to remain subdued, observe the Triduum fast, and make preparation to celebrate the greatest feast of our faith, the Resurrection of the Lord.

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The meaning of the season of Lent

March 10, 2017

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GoodFriday

There are four general Prefaces in the Roman Missal for the Season of Lent, and these texts are not only spoken liturgical prayers, they also serve as texts for personal prayer and meditation, and they express the spiritual purpose and importance of the season.

Preface I of Lent explains the meaning of the season.  It begins by noting that Lent is God’s gracious gift to us each year.  Lent is not monthly, quarterly, biannually, or every five years, but once a year.  God gives us the season of Lent for our own spiritual good.  Sin is insidious.  New sins pop up.  We fall deeper into the rut of old habitual sins.  Laxity creeps in.  God knows that we need to set aside time each year to reexamine our lives, face our shortcomings, renounce our evildoing, admit instances when we should have done good and failed to do so, repent, be cleansed, and start anew.

Lent is the time that God’s faithful await the sacred paschal feasts.  It is a forty day journey of preparation for the three holiest days of the Church year, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, all three woven together into the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

The goal is for each believer to be able to celebrate the Triduum with joy, a genuine sense of inner peace and contentment that comes from being in right relationship with God and neighbor, loving others, speaking the truth, performing good deeds, and observing the commandments.  Joy is the result of minds made pure.  Our minds are impure when we think about bad things like how to get back at someone, how to get away with something without being caught, or how to treat ourselves to something that is harmful, and then to desire the bad thing for ourselves and devise a plan for how to get it.  Lent is a time to cleanse our minds of all mental impurities and to desire what is good and wholesome, and for our desires to conform with the gospel and God’s will.  A pure mind is the path to true joy, and a joyful heart is the ideal spiritual disposition for the celebration of the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

Lent is a season to be more eagerly intent on prayer and works of charity.  To be eagerly intent is to strongly want something, to recognize it as worthwhile, and to pursue it with excitement and energy.  It is a time of intensification.  Presumably prayer is already a part of our spiritual lives.  Lent is a time to improve the quality or the quantity of our prayer.  Presumably we already perform good deeds.  Lent is a time for additional or new acts of kindness.

During Lent we participate in the mysteries by which we are reborn.  Each Christian is born of flesh, and reborn of water and spirit (see Jn 3:5,6).  Lent features conversion, a stronger belief in Jesus as Messiah and Lord, he who is the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25); the mystery of the Cross, how Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer washes away our sins with the blood that he shed and gives us new life in his grace; and forgiveness, how Jesus is compassionate and merciful and grants pardon and peace to the sinner.  Lent looks ahead to Holy Thursday, the Eucharist and how Jesus lives within those who receive his Body and Blood (Jn 6:53-58); Good Friday, and how Jesus’s death on the Cross leads to salvation and eternal life; and Easter, how in the waters of Baptism each believer dies to sin and is reborn in the fullness of God’s grace.  It is through Baptism, the featured sacrament of Easter, that we become members of the Body of Christ, and God claims us as his sons and daughters.

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A fresh approach to self denial and good works

March 3, 2017

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FourPillarsPen

This Lent don’t be stuck in a rut.  “Same old, same old” – is old.  If nothing changes, nothing changes!  The same old routine yields the same old results.  If we want things to be different (i.e., better), we must do things differently.  Except different requires change, and change requires effort, and change can be uncomfortable.  Fear and laziness are the two biggest obstacles.  Don’t be afraid.  Give a little extra effort.  Keep what works but add or substitute something new.  A fresh approach can be invigorating.

Consider a two part-plan for starters.  Part One:  Give something up for Lent!  About this time of year I brace myself for my one big pre-Lent pet peeve.  As Ash Wednesday approaches it is a strange annual phenomenon, but several people will whisper their little secret to me:  “Father, I’m not going to give up anything for Lent this year.  All of this denial stuff is too negative.”  And then proudly declare, “I am only going to do something positive this Lent.”  It is not nice to say in reply, “Bad plan,” but it is misguided. Lent is a penitential season, and self-denial is an indispensable penitential practice.

The “negative” part of Lent is the focus on sin.  It is not very “positive” to pay attention to our evildoing, but we must.  Jesus said “Repent” in his opening statement in Mark’s gospel (Mk 1:15).  “Repent, and believe in the gospel” is the formula for the signing with ashes.  Repent means “Quit sinning,” “Be sorry for sin,” and “Change for the better.”  It takes tremendous self-control and self-denial to stop sinning.  We may not like self-denial, but Jesus demands it:  “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself” (Mk 8:34).

Self-denial is extremely beneficial because it teaches self-mastery and builds strength to battle temptation.  It is relatively easy to give up a little pleasure.  Select something different to give up this year.  It could be sweet rolls, cookies, popcorn at bedtime, or a favorite TV program.  We all have something we really like that we really do not need.  Make a firm resolution to give it up for forty days, no exceptions.  Our desires should not control us, God should.  If the item is a sweet roll, when it comes to mind, it is a moment to be mindful of God because our goal to please God is the motivation behind our self-denial.  And we need to practice saying, “No!”  As we get better and better at refusing the sweet roll time after time throughout the day, we gain spiritual mastery over our preferences, particularly our sinful ones, and we become increasingly adept at saying no when temptation comes knocking.

Part Two:  Do something positive for Lent!  The person who only wanted to do something positive had a good idea, but it was incomplete.  A balanced approach is both negative and positive; we should give something up and do good works.

When it comes to good works, try to be sneaky and invisible!  In the gospel for Ash Wednesday Jesus tells us, “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see” (Mt 6:1).  Jesus wants us to be invisible.  Jesus also advises, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Mt 6:3). He wants us to be sneaky – in a good sense!  The purpose of our good works should not be to gain the admiration or thanks of others.  If our good works are “sneaky,” they will be a pleasant surprise to someone, and if they are “invisible,” the person will have no idea who did it and be unable to offer a complement, sing our praises, or return the favor.  Surprise blessings of unknown origin are gifts from God.  When we are sneaky and invisible we are like angels, God’s messengers bringing God’s blessings.

It is like Secret Santa for Lent.  Leave an encouraging note in someone’s cube at work.  Put a candy bar on someone’s desk or a little gift in someone’s mailbox.  Let someone else go first.  Anonymously pay for the meal of someone at another table.  The possibilities are endless.  Be creative in finding new ways to be kind to others, and be so clever as to go unnoticed.  Then, to God goes the glory!

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Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord A Dual Feast

March 17, 2016

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The Dual Nature of the Feast.  Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.  It is a dual feast.  It has traditionally been known as Palm Sunday because the Mass begins with a gospel text that recounts how palm branches were used to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, and because palm branches are blessed at the beginning of Mass and carried in procession as part of the Entrance Rite.  It has also traditionally been known as Passion Sunday because the Passion Narrative is proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word.

A Unique Aspect of the Palm-Passion Liturgy.  This is the only Sunday of the entire liturgical year in which two separate gospel passages are read at the same Mass.  The liturgy begins with a special opening rite with the gospel proclamation of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as the crowd waved palms and cried out, “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Year A, Mt 21:1-11; Year B, Mk 11:1-10 or Jn 12:12-16; Year C, Lk 19:28-40). At the regular gospel time the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed in its entirety (Year A, Mt 26:14-27:66; Year B, Mk 14:1-15:47; Year C, Lk 22:14-23:56).

One Mass with Two Distinct Moods.  The Mass has two very different sentiments or feeling tones, jubilation, then lamentation.  The opening scene is festive.  As Jesus mounted the donkey the excitement rose to a fever pitch.  The crowd swelled.  Full of joy, the people waved their palm branches with gladness, laid their cloaks on the roadway with reverence, marched next to Jesus in happiness, and raised their voices with exuberance as they confidently proclaimed Jesus as the “Son of David” (Mt 21:9), “the prophet” (Mt 21:11), and their King.  As the Mass begins with the procession with palms, we honor Christ as our King and sovereign Lord, and the procession with palms into or around the church is intended to recapture the energy and enthusiasm of Jesus’ regal cortege from Bethpage down the Mount of Olives and through the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem.

An Abrupt Change.  Only moments later there is a jarring mood shift.  The former exhilaration comes to an abrupt halt.  The tone suddenly becomes dark and dreary with the proclamation of four somber readings.  The first reading is the third Suffering Servant Canticle of Isaiah (Is 50:4-7) with the sad words, “I gave my back to those who beat me” (Is 50:6a);  the Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 22, the first portion which foretells a chilling aspect of the passion of the Messiah, “They have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps 22:17b); and the second reading is the Christ Hymn with the grim statement that Jesus became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8b).  The culmination of the Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of the Passion, the painful account of how Jesus was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed, crucified, and killed.  This bitter account causes our hearts to ache with sorrow.

The Paschal Mystery.  Holy Week begins with mourning, weeping, and lamentation.  The Cross is the most ignominious of all deaths, yet it is through the Cross that Jesus ultimately triumphed as our King and Savior.  This solemn week is filled with anguish and grief, but it ends with an ever greater mood shift, the joy and exaltation of the Resurrection and Easter.

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St. Edward fish fry raises funds for youth group trip

March 17, 2016

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sted

St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Bloomington is St. Edward’s. They don’t pull out the deep fryers every week in Lent like some of the previous parishes Fish Daddy visited. In fact, if you’re looking for a recommendation to visit St. Edward’s Fish Fry, you’ll actually have to wait until next year. But the event raised awareness and funds for a unique summer experience for the active St. Edward’s youth group.

Fish

St. Edward’s youth served up a plate of two piping hot deep-fried fish portions, together with crinkle cut fries, a simple salad, cole slaw, and dessert and a beverage. Creamy Mac and Cheese was available as a sub for the non-fishmongers among us, but better yet, they brought out the malt vinegar, a staple for the fish and chips purists among us. (2 fish)

Service

A hearty welcome at the entrance table, along with plenty of table service here, from the coffee and beverage refillers to the plate clearers. And St. Ed’s also had a nice guitar accompaniment with dinner, compliments of the youth group. And if you feel the need to sneak back for that second cookie or delicious slice of cake at the dessert table, you weren’t the only one. (3 fish)

Fishers of people

There are plenty of Lenten offerings at the church of St. Edward’s, from the post-food Stations of the Cross, to rosaries on Monday evenings and Potluck and Palm Braiding on Wednesday March 16. Visit their website to find out what’s going on for Holy Week, too.

The St. Edward’s youth group was well on their way to raising funds for their trip to Heifer Ranch in Perrysville, Arkansas. There, they will learn about sustainable solutions for hunger, poverty, and the environment. (3 fish)

Value

$35/family; $12 per person. Under 7 free. The family rate has put the smallest dent in Fish Daddy’s family wallet this Fish Fry Lent, but a repeat performance here won’t come until 2017. Be sure to check the listings at http://www.thcatholicspirit.com early in Lent to make sure you don’t miss out on that once-a-Lent fish fry. (3 fish)

St. Edward’s 9401 Nesbitt Ave S., Bloomington 952-835-7101. http://stedwardschurch.org

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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St. Albert the Great the ‘State Fair’ of fish fries

March 8, 2016

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St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

St. Albert the Great

If you like your Fish Fries like your State Fairs, you’ll find a home at St. Albert the Great. Father Joe Gillespie is Pastor and chief MC during Fridays in Lent at St. Albert the Great, and if he’s not calling your 50-50 number or giving a local TV interview, he’ll be telling you the story of the parish’s namesake saint. Fish Daddy arrived close to start time, and as I wound up the stairs, through the church, and into the Social Hall, before seeing a line, I quickly realized the hungrier you are, the earlier you need arrive. They seat thousands each week (one volunteer recounted 1600 one Friday evening last year with food still going at 8 p.m., and a packed coverall bingo game down the hall in the gym). With balloons on every table, and volunteers with top-hats or Mardi Gras crowns, these are clearly your street dance-visiting neighbors.

Fish

St. Albert the Great's hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great’s hall festively decorated for the well-sought Friday fish fry. Courtesy Fish Daddy

St. Albert the Great serves locally farmed tilapia (rumored to be the fish St. Peter sought), baked or fried, along with a helping of meatless spaghetti, cole slaw, delicious parslied mashed potatoes with garlic butter and a fluffy roll. A nice touch was a small ramekin of tomato basil soup or potato lobster chowder. Save room for the dessert tables, where you can choose the rich brownie bombs, or palate-clearing watermelon cubes. Or both. Pies, bars, cookies, and cakes made for some tough decisions. (3 fish)

Service

Aproned volunteers were chatty as they cleared a plate, sold you a 50-50 ticket, or just hollered and clapped a neighbor on the back. There were plenty of Risen Christ students about as well, helping with beverages, plates, or being gophers for whatever occasion. If it all seems too lively, you can make your way back to the church, where latecomers are serenaded with music, and wait for their “group letters” to be called for seating. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Stations precede the festivities on Fridays 3:15-3:45, but be sure to make it back on Sunday night for a Lenten movie series and discussion starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday March 11 and 20. And while you missed Dr. Art Zannoni’s Friday lectures earlier in Lent, you can make reparations by bringing a pair of new socks for the homeless to St. Albert the Great’s Potluck on Holy Thursday at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m., with an optional foot-washing. (3 fish).

Value

$11 adults, 65+ $10, youth 5-12, $5, and under 5 free. St. Albert the Great parishioners know how to put the fun in fundraise, so be ready! From Bingo to Silent Auction to 50-50, to drawings for goods and support for the youth group’s trip to Ecuador, it’s not hard to let a few dollars slip out of your pocket and serve others. (4 fish).

St. Albert the Great 2836 33rd Ave S., Minneapolis 612-724-3643. http://www.saintalbertthegreat.org/

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Tasty fish an ‘Epiphany’ at Coon Rapids parish

March 2, 2016

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epiphany1

“It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper,” writes Fish Daddy of his Feb. 26 fish fry dinner at Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

From the minute Fish Daddy approached the church hall door, and later took the tray from the PTO volunteer, whiffs of both tasty fish and parochial school upbringing hung in the air. It wasn’t long before the throwback silly putty-colored tray was laden with a hearty supper. Pink lemonade in a Styrofoam cup and a side of applesauce had me captivated. But that wasn’t all. With the size of the tray, it was unlikely anyone would need seconds.

Fish

Epiphany served up two Guinness-battered fish and the craic to go with it. The optional baked fish or non-Guinness-battered was also excellent, so I heard, as well as the choice of tater tots, straight-up cabbagey slaw, breadstick or roll, dessert tray selection and beverage. Fish Daddy’s guests found the potato a bit underdone. Epiphany’s cooks fire up a curveball, too. Cheese pizza is on the menu, specially for the 10 and under crowd. (2 fish)

Service

Students' artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany's fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Students’ artwork welcomed guests to Epiphany’s fish fry Feb. 26. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Two lines made the hungry dinner crowd at ease, and plenty of PTO help from serving to cleaning to offering refills on coffee, water, or lemonade made the meal go down smoothly. Pleasant young ladies and gents came by several times. Sixteen half cafeteria-length tables with two overflow rooms made for ample comfort, with well over a hundred guests seated during my stay. (3 fish)

Fishers of men

Epiphany’s Stations of the Cross were scheduled following dinner at 7 p.m., and their adoration chapel is advertised as 24/7. There were several Lenten devotion notices well placed either in the church hall or on the website. The 3-day Parish Mission with Fr. Mike Schmitz is scheduled for March 7-9, and the Easter Cantata is on 7 p.m. March 18 and 1 p.m. March 19. And that’s just Lent. Father Thomas Dufner and his parish team offer plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and spiritually nourished (4 fish).

Value

A thrifty $10 gets you in the door, with youth and seniors paying $6, and under 5 free (3 fish).

Epiphany parishioners are clearly proud of their youth. From the many pictures on the website to pint-sized helpers to young artists who created many personalized colored placemats with fish themes, this parish rings out with parochial spirit.

And if you didn’t hear the national buzz around the snow altar built on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the help of some of the young adults of Epiphany, then check out the Jan. 23 Catholic Spirit article. Now that’s a catch!

Epiphany 1900 111th Ave NW, Coon Rapids. http://www.epiphanymn.org. 763-755-1020.

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? Email CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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God’s Boundless Mercy and the Forgiveness of our Sins, the Major Point of Emphasis in Lent

February 26, 2016

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UnknownA Vertical Thread.  The readings for Lent in each of the three liturgical years have a “vertical thread,” a unifying theme or topic that runs “up and down” over a series of consecutive weeks.  The thread is not built into the First Sunday of Lent, the temptations of Jesus in the desert, and the Second Sunday of Lent, the Transfiguration, but emerges on the Third Sunday of Lent and continues until Passion Sunday.  In Year C the thread is forgiveness.

Why Forgiveness?  We are sinners.  We have strayed from God and the commandments, been lost in the darkness, frivolous with our gifts, stuck in our ways, impatient and unkind, greedy and self-centered, angry and mean, impolite and impure, dishonest and unfaithful.  Fallen and broken, we are in desperate need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The Third Sunday of Lent (Lk 13:1-9).  The gospel is the parable of the unproductive fig tree.  The tree represents each of us.  Over time, because of our sins, we have done far fewer good deeds than we should have done; we have not borne much good fruit.  The owner of the vineyard, God, is rightfully upset, and considering a severe punishment, the removal of the tree.  But the gardener, Jesus, asks for mercy, that we be given a second chance, and he offers “cultivation and fertilization,” more grace and blessings, so we might be given another chance to bear good fruit.  Jesus takes no delight whatsoever in punishment.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Lk 15:1-3,11-32).  The Parable of the Prodigal Son, or better stated, the Parable of the Forgiving Father, is the premier forgiveness parable in the gospel of Luke.  Like the young son, each of us has squandered our gifts from God.  We have offended God, our Father, and no longer deserve to be considered God’s children.  Yet, if we return home to God, God is waiting with open arms, and God will embrace us and welcome us back.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Jn  8:1-11).  The gospel is the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery.  Adultery is a grave sexual sin, and in the Jewish faith it was a capital offense punishable by death by stoning. But Jesus in his mercy said, “Neither do I condemn you” (Jn 8:11).  Again, Jesus was incredibly merciful.  If we have committed sins against purity, Jesus would prefer to set punishment aside.  All he wants is that from now on we would not commit these sins any more (see Jn 8:11).

Passion Sunday (Lk 22:14-23:49).  When Jesus was condemned and crucified, he was grossly mistreated by the religious leaders and his execution squad, yet he said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), and when the repentant criminal asked for mercy, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).  In every case, Jesus had no desire to punish.  His deepest desire was to forgive and reunify the person to God.  May each of us rejoice in God’s gift of forgiveness, and conduct ourselves in a way that is pleasing to God.

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Guardian Angels a ‘big fish’ in fish fry bowl

February 23, 2016

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Guardian Angels knows how to fill a plate, Fish Daddy found on his Feb. 19 visit. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Guardian Angels knows how to fill a plate, Fish Daddy found on his Feb. 19 visit. Courtesy Fish Daddy

Catholic Hotdish offers another review from Fish Daddy, who visits some of the hot spots in the Twin Cities for Lenten fish fries. He’s looking at more than the fish — it’s the fellowship, the friendliness and faith that makes this Catholic Lenten tradition shine.

Guardian Angels, Oakdale

If you’ve ever noticed the iconic steepled church on the hill after traveling westward into Minnesota from Wisconsin on I-94, you’ve seen Guardian Angels church. But if that’s all you’ve seen of the parish, like Fish Daddy, you ain’t seen the half of it. The parking lot was my first clue. Not unlike what I might find at a local hotspot. Cars everywhere, long walk to the door. Fish Daddy even wondered if neighbor Best Buy was taking some of the parking spots. More likely to be the other way round. When I saw the line, I had a flashback to concert ticket lines from my college days, where you bring a deck of cards. Prepare to be amazed at the spread the Guardian Angels Men’s Club puts on.

Fish

Guardian Angels serves up a generous helping of fried or baked cod, but it’s far from fish on a dish. My plate was adorned with baby red potatoes with a delicate coating, crisp sautéed green beans with trillion-shaped red peppers, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and — wait, I’m out of room on the plate. The dessert deserves its own sentence: It’s a petite, crenellated toasted tart shell filled with chocolate mousse and a berry. Clearly not your average fish fry. Why? The Chef. John Schiltz, chef-owner of the nearby Lake Elmo Inn, brings his restaurateur skills to the table for the parish, to delicious effect. And when you have the cuisine and élan of the Lake Elmo Inn on your bench, not much is left to chance. (four fish)

Service

From the volunteer who opened the door, to those who rolled out dinner tickets, to the small army of volunteers festooned in Guardian Angels-themed fish dinner shirts, (not fish fry, as their tagline goes) it was clear this was a professional operation. With seating for about 400, there were helpers for coffee and soda, helpers for setting, helpers for clearing, helpers for dishing, a kitchen stuffed with food prep sous chefs, helpers for everything — except making the line go faster. And when that’s your only problem (it was at least a half-hour from door to table, and probably longer the later your arrival), then you have clearly mastered culinary management, and the limiting factor is your inability to open another Guardian Angels location! (three fish: service; one fish: wait time)

Fishers of men

Pastor Father Rodger Bauman was about, chatting with parishioners and nearly lost in the throng, which filled Peter O’Neill Hall and two overflow rooms. After the dinner, the parish prays Stations of the Cross, complete with ASL interpreter. It’s a fitting end to the evening, but you’ll want to return for the Lenten vespers service 7 p.m. March 6. They also have a healing service/sacrament of the sick 3 p.m. Feb 28. (three fish)

Value

A hearty meal for those of us who have fasted on Friday is welcome, and the price matches the presentation. $13 gets those over 13 in the door, and take $3 off if you’re over 65. Youth 6-12 pay $6, and the under 5 crowd is always free. You can take out your fish as well. Yep, there’s a separate team for that, too. (three fish)

Guardian Angels is clearly a big fish in the sea of fish fries. And would you believe Lenten schedules on table napkin dispensers? They’ve also got a snappy website with not only the Lenten and Easter schedule, but events throughout the year. If you’re looking for a feast to break the fast, you only have two more chances: March 4 and March 18; 4:30-7 p.m.. Get there early, and let me know how your card game comes out as well!

Details

Guardian-angels.org. 8260 4th St. N., Oakdale, MN 55128. 651-738-2223

Want Fish Daddy to visit your parish? E-mail CatholicSpirit@archspm.org.

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Hungry for more? Fish Daddy reviews the fish fry at Holy Cross, Minneapolis

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