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As I mentioned before Mass, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and we’re called to make resolutions for Lent. Usually, if I ask people what resolution they’re making often, it might be, “I’m giving up candy” or, “I’m giving up sweets.” Some people are clever, and they say, “I’m giving up giving up stuff for Lent.” Don’t do that, please; give up things. We’re called to do three things: increase our prayer, fast, and give alms. You have between now and Ash Wednesday to figure out what resolution you want to make for each of those three things, particularly increasing our prayer. If you haven’t learned yet, our whole parish is doing Pray 40 days, 40 days’ worth of guided meditation that we’re going to lead you through small groups that everybody can join. You can join us if you’re not a parish member. That could be your resolution, to do those meditations daily for Lent. 

The second is fasting. There is a difference between fasting and abstinence. When most people say, “I’m giving up candy, giving up video games, or giving up something,” that’s actually abstinence. On Good Friday, we abstain from meat. On the Fridays of Lent, we abstain from meat, but we’re also called to fast, and fasting means eating nothing. Fasting is an important part of our spiritual and whole faith traditions, and I think we’ve lost sight of the importance of fasting. Many great Saints would say, “If you want something from God, pray and fast.” Jesus even says in the gospel that our prayer becomes so strong when we fast. I want you to think about a concrete way to do that. I was shamed at my last parish because our maintenance man, who was not even Catholic, told me that he had twice in his life fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. I said, “You’re kidding.” No food. He only had water and herbal tea for 40 days and 40 nights.

I had never fasted a day in my life; I don’t think, so I thought, I’ve got to try to figure this fasting out because I’ve been a priest for 15 years, and my maintenance man, who is not even Catholic, is shaming me. I decided to give it a try. I’m one of those people; I get jittery if I don’t eat food, which always scares me about fasting. Can I do this? Can I not eat food for a little while? Fasting is so important because it’s our most base primal desire. If you find yourself addicted to anything and you want to give that up, if you want to even get to the core of the roots, fasting can do that. I can tell you I tried it. I tried it for one day; the next week, I did two days; I did three; and the next week, I did 4 days. What made it powerful was that I had somebody in mind that I was fasting for, a good friend of mine who has cancer. That made me put meaning to it and want to do it. I fasted for those different times during Lent, and then another priest and I decided we would go all out. We’re going to fast all of Holy Week, all the way through Easter, and then both of us broke our resolutions by day two of that week. Try to fast and think of a concrete way to do that and see if you can stretch yourself a little bit more as we enter the season of Lent. 

The third is almsgiving. Lent is a time to give to the poor. Thank you for the donation that you might have made to Catholic Charities. If you haven’t, you can always give to the parish because we give to many poor worldwide. If you have any charity or cause you to believe in, resolve to give in some way to the poor, even if it’s only a dollar. Just do something that you can to give to the poor. So, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The parish mission is tomorrow night, Sunday night, Monday night, and Tuesday at 7:00 PM. It will only be an hour every night. I’ll lead us there, and our choir will also be with us. We’ll be singing, praising, and laughing, and I’ll tell stories. It’s going to be a wonderful time. 

When I heard the gospel today that the sun shines on the good and the bad alike. That gave me hope because I think many of us, myself included, think we have to be perfect. We’ve got to make ourselves perfect for God to love us. But he will shine his light on you no matter how you are, bad or good. Whatever you are, he wants to shine his light on you. 

Growing up, when I turned 15, I begged my parents for a dog. My mom and dad are here right now. I begged them for a dog. I’ll tell you about this later, but they finally broke down. Fifteen years old, and I’ll never forget it. I just got home from Dairy Queen. I was working at Dairy Queen, walked home, and they’d gotten me this dog. I was so happy. Something very interesting would happen. When the sun shone through the windows of our house, that dog would always find the sunny spot and go lay there in the sun. Do any of you have pets that do that? I do the same thing. Sometimes we would have the same spot. As a child, I loved lying in the sun and absorbing that good feeling. That’s what I want you to experience in prayer. If there is any darkness in your life, if you ever felt distant from God, if you ever felt like that relationship was strained, this parish mission and the 40 Days of Lent will be a wonderful time for getting close to him. 

You know I like to play the ukulele, so that I will play a song for you along with Sig by The Beatles called “Here Comes the Sun.” The idea is the sun shines on the good and the bad alike. We’re all gathered together, and the sun will come for us. As you hear this, please think about that. The desolation or darkness you might be experiencing is going to come to an end tomorrow night. You will hear God’s voice and experience him if you join us for this wonderful mission. 

(Music playing)

“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s all right.

Little darling, it’s been a long and cold winter.

Little darling, it seems like years since you’ve been here.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s all right.

Little darling, the smile’s returning to your face.

Little darling, it seems like years since you’ve been here.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s all right.

Little darling, I feel the ice is slowly melting.

Little darling, it seems like years since you’ve been here.

Little darling, here comes the sun,

Little darling, and I say,

It’s all right.”

I’ve got a little custom verse here:

“St. Matthias Parish Mission is coming this Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Bring your families, bring your friends and everyone you know.

Here comes the mission, here comes the mission, and I say,

If you come, everything will be all right.”

Join us this Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for the parish mission.