Lent and the Annual Catholic Appeal!
It is that time of year again...time to prepare for Lent! When I think of this season, prayer, fasting and almsgiving come to mind. Those holy practices ring in our ears like bells. Shortly after I arrived to OLPH, the themes of my bulletin articles echoed these three practices of the spiritual life. They are the foundations of a good and holy Lent and effective barometers of our continual conversion to the LORD.
Fasting was a regular practice during Jesus’ time. Jews fasted twice per week (see: Luke 18:12). Christians continued this custom on Wednesdays and Fridays. Jesus teaches that certain miracles can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting (see: Mark 9:9). Fasting adds power to power. With our bodies engaged, fasting refines our intentions . Fasting reminds the body who is in charge, not the belly but the spirit.
Bishop O’Connell recently reminded us of another angle: Lent is not just about giving up but also about giving. “The very nature and purpose of Lent, to both “give up” and to “give” something,” he wrote. He sits in the company of masters like Saint John Chrysostom who taught that prayer and fasting mean little until they blossom into almsgiving. One simple example: give up Wawa coffee for Lent, but take that $10 a week and give it to a worthy cause. Give up and give over.
This week 197 households in our parish (including me!) received a letter from Bishop O’Connell, inviting us to give to the Annual Catholic Appeal. He quotes Pope Saint Paul VI: “Never reach out a hand unless you are willing to extend an arm.” In other words, service and generosity cannot be in half-measure. A life of generous service is one that has “skin in the game!”
Last year, 2018, OLPH raised $22,000, from 196 generous donors. On average, about $110 a family. Our 2018 goal was $46,328. For 2019, our goal has been lowered to $45,000, which may sound like a lot but is manageable if we all pitch in. Every week about 400 families use envelopes to donate. If more families participate, we should have no problem meeting our goal. For example, if 300 families gave $150 we would make our goal. That is $15 / month for 10 months. $0.50 a day. For my part, I commit to giving $365, $1 a day. I would love it if you would prayerfully consider matching that gift. Some families can afford more.
When we reach our goal, 15% comes back to the parish ($6750)! And 50% of every dollar over goal returns as well. I hope to dedicate these funds to our pew refurbishment resources that came from the Faith to Move Mountains Campaign.
The Annual Appeal supports outreach and evangelization in our diocese. With these monies, the diocese funds programs to advance the Kingdom of God in her territory: Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer counties. These funds are not used to compensate those who have experienced abuse. They are exclusively for the programs outlined in the video and online: Diocese of Trenton Catholic Appeal .
Please support the Annual Catholic Appeal. If every family pitches in, we should be in good shape. I invite you to prayerfully discern an amount that is generous and sacrificial in your particular situation.
May God bless us in abundant measure!