“It is a summons to stop, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.” Pope Francis
The past week brought me to Nashville for a work trip, with Ash Wednesday falling right in the middle of the three-day metals conference I was attending. Fortunately, I had no problem finding a parish for, as Father John Hammond noted in his homily, one of the most-attended Masses of the year.
The parish I found, St. Patrick in South Nashville, seems particularly fitting in retrospect. One of the older Catholic churches in the city, St. Patrick was founded as the home of Nashville’s Irish population in the late 1880s. It also became a popular spot for the country’s nomadic Irish Travelers. Members of that itinerant group of Irish-Americans would return annually for weddings and funerals, and have even contributed gifts to the parish through the years. So here I was, an Irish-American traveling to the small church for an evening service.
The Lenten season is upon us. May we heed Pope Francis’s words to use this time to return to the Lord. “The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.”