By Barb Arland-Fye
A parishioner from St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville is fasting one day a week throughout Lent “in solidarity with the hungry,” she wrote to The Catholic Messenger.
“Every time I feel a hunger pang it is a reminder that I have a meal waiting soon — many others don’t. I’m donating the money from the meals to CRS (Catholic Relief Services).”
Glenn Leach, a parishioner at St. Ann Parish in Long Grove, will keep the Sabbath a different day each week in an effort to be more focused on his relationship with God.
“I will attend Mass, and outside of Mass, read the readings of the Mass, perhaps the whole chapters from which they are taken, to try to capture a better sense of context and what they are saying to me, today, and to enrich my knowledge of the Word.
“I will honestly examine what role I would have played in the setting of the Scriptures, and not necessarily assume I would have been one of the ‘good guys.’ I will try to pray that what I have read will influence the way I live.”
John and Diane Schultz of North English will “cut back on the meat in our meals and eat vegan four days out of the week. And we’ll also put up posters of the Stations of the Cross and pray,” Diane said. “We use a CD when doing the Stations of the Cross. We have a son with autism and he follows along fairly well with this.”
Besides individuals’ Lenten practices, parishes across the Davenport Diocese are offering a variety of opportunities to help enrich parishioners’ journey through Lent.
For example, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine, St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction and St. Mary Parish in Wilton are coordinating Ash Wednesday Masses, weekday Masses during Lent, Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration, 40 Hours Devotion, adult education, Spanish Bible study, communal penance, confirmation retreats and the RCIA Rite of Sending Forth.
“It’s really making Lent a time to pause and a time for spiritual growth,” said Sister Cheryl Demmer, PBVM, director of faith formation for Muscatine and Columbus Junction.
This year’s adult education class in the new Faith Formation Center in Muscatine offers such an opportunity to do so. It’s a video retreat with Father Ron Rolheiser entitled “Creating Sabbath Space in Our Lives,” she said. Liturgy of the Hours, a form of prayer centered on Scripture, psalms, hymns and readings, will be offered each morning during Lent in the St. Mathias Chapel in Muscatine.
And Forty Hours Devotion will begin after the 7 a.m. Mass March 26 and continue until 11:59 p.m. March 27 at Ss. Mary & Mathias.
“We line up people to come in for each of the hours and Father (Jason Crossen, pastor of Ss. Mary & Mathias and St. Joseph parishes) lines up speakers to do reflections,” she said.
During her hour last year, Sr. Demmer offered a prayer service. Father James Vrba, pastor of the Wilton parish and sacramental minister for the Muscatine parish, offered a teaching and reflection on St. Paul’s theology of the Eucharist.
“We do a lot of sharing back and forth, sharing of resources. I just find it to be a really great team,” she said of the staff and priests (Frs. Crossen, Vrba and Joseph Sia, parochial vicar of the Muscatine and Columbus Junction parishes).
Fr. Vrba, for instance, instructs RCIA candidates on reconciliation, using the Scripture story about the Prodigal Son. The three parishes have a total of 31 RCIA candidates this year — 25 from Muscatine, five from Columbus Junction and one from Wilton, Sr. Demmer said.
“I think there’s a real hunger for spiritual growth,” she added.
Other parishes throughout the diocese are observing Lent with Stations of the Cross and soup suppers, reflection groups and other activities. For details, see http://www.catholicmessenger.org/calendar_of_events.