As the Lenten Season moves closer to Holy Week, it is not unusual for the fervor of Christ the Redeemer parish to get more solemn and intense. After all, Lent begins with the Rite of Election for catechumens who enter the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This period is highlighted by the celebration of The Scrutinies beginning with the Third Sunday of Lent.
In addition to these Sunday celebrations, Christ the Redeemer continues its observances of a Wednesday Evening Mass in conjunction with The Light is On for You, the joint collaboration of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington offering the sacrament of Reconciliation for those seeking ways to join their faith community during this Lenten period of discernment and resolution.
But in addition to these typical annual observances, two particularly acute and personal ones have also visited Christ the Redeemer Parish. Just over a week ago, on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, while preparing for its own Parish Reconciliation Service, Christ the Redeemer received news that Fr. Arthur Johnson, S.A. had passed away in Florida.
Fr. Art had been in declining health and had retired from the parish last summer. Fr. Patrick Cogan, S.A. who celebrated his first year as the new pastor at the parish in February, and Fr. Kenneth Cienick, S.A. who had also joined the parish as parochial vicar were both classmates of Fr. Art. Fr. Ken was even fortunate enough to have celebrated the Anointing of the Sick with Fr. Art a month ago during a visit to the area.
The second event happened the following day. Prior to the Wednesday evening Mass, word came that Jose Silva, the husband of Amelia Silva the Director of Hispanic Religious Education, was involved in a serious car accident. He was taken to Fairfax Hospital and underwent brain surgery. He currently is in an induced coma, with a broken neck and broken legs.
Over the weekend, the rest of the parish learned of these events. Funeral services for Fr. Art are planned in his hometown of Philadelphia, but the details are not known yet. Neither is the outcome known for Jose Silva, as prayers and prayer requests continue. For that indeed is what the Scrutinies and the Lenten Journey are about: both the joys and the sorrows of God's gift of life.
This weekend will be the celebration of the final Scrutiny depicted by Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is indeed Lord of the Living and the Dead. And it is into His hands that we entrust both the repose of Fr. Art and the life of his servant and spouse, Jose Silva.