Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish,

For the first time in four weeks, we have a snow-free forecast for this weekend's Masses! Warm weather is only around the corner. March is almost over. It's finally a little bit light at the start of the 6:30 AM Mass (although it's mostly dark). Spring training has begun for the major league baseball teams. 

I am a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. I grew up in Baltimore County and when I was a child, they were very good. When I was 13, they won the World Series for the third time since 1966. Three players on that 1983 team are in the Hall of Fame (Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken). From 1960 until 1985 they had 23 willing seasons and only two losing seasons. I expected them to be great forever.

They were not. The Orioles have not been back to the World Series since 1983. In the 35 years from 1986 to 2020, they have only had 10 winning seasons, and are currently one of the worst teams in the major leagues. It is a far cry from what they were when I was young. A baseball website popular for its statistical analysis lists the Orioles with a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs this year, the only team in the major leagues with that pitiful distinction.

However, hope springs eternal! Each Spring, there is a hope that some veteran will outperform anything he's done before, or that a rookie will establish himself as a star, or that any number of things could fall into place and take the Orioles back to the success they once had! Yes, it's irrational to think this. The numbers show this is not possible. It's not even the goal of the general manager, who is trying to save money and obtain young players so that they may be good in the future. But with the dawning of Spring Training, there is always hope, even for the hopeless.

Thus it is with the beginning of Lent. Like Spring Training, it is a time to develop new habits and get ourselves into spiritual shape. St. Benedict tells us "to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times." Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we are to grow in holiness that we may prepare for the Easter Triduum on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and through our Lenten sanctification to bear greater fruit in our lives in the days to come. 

In this call to battle, there is often a sense of hopelessness that tries to creep in. Sometimes, the Evil One wants us to think that it is impossible to shed our favorite sins, the ones that have clung to us and become a distorted part of who we presently are: the grudges we hold, the indulgences we allow ourselves, the pleasures we convince ourselves we need, etc. We have not been able to overcome them in the past, and so we often give up the fight, trying to minimize the damage or, worse yet, seeing this sinful habit as something we can accept since it is not something we can overcome. 

Hope springs eternal! Jesus Christ has overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil! Nothing is impossible for God! So we begin this Lenten mission bolstered by faith that with God's grace we can walk the way of perfection filled with the hope for the freedom and fulfillment that come with a life marked by a greater love of God. 

And Go Orioles!

Our Lenten schedule here at St. Andrew's can be found here. We have added Confessions on Monday (8:00 AM), Wednesday (6:30 PM - 8:00 PM), and Friday (7:00 AM following the 6:30 AM Mass). With the Confessions that we already have on Tuesday (11:45 AM - 12:15 PM), Thursday (5:30 PM - 6:30 PM), and Saturday (3:30 PM - 4:30 PM), we will have Confessions each day from Monday through Saturday during Lent. Please note that the Monday and Friday morning Confessions end when the Confession line runs out, so please arrive at the starting time to be sure that the priest is still in the Confessional. 

Fr. Bresnahan and I hope that these additional times will make it more convenient for everyone to come to this blessed sacrament of mercy this sacred season. The increase in Confession times also shows our desire that this sacrament is a significant part of the lives of all of the parishioners of St. Andrew's. 

Be assured of my prayers for each of you for a blessed and fruitful Lenten season. Please pray for Fr. Bresnahan and me as well. God bless you all. 

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Wagner