101 Spiritual Ideas for Lent

101 Spiritual Ideas for Lent

Originally created on March 1, 2009 (Updated Feb. 17, 2010 and again Feb. 18, 2018)

A scarcity mentality can darken our joy and blind us to the abundance that is before us. We need to break through the chains that captivate us in selfishness. Certainly, God is the first one whom we need to seek. In addition, we can do some spiritual and concrete things which will remind us of the joy which God wants us to have. 

In addition, Lent provides us with a particularly focus time to explore ways that we can give God the glory, love others, and care/love ourselves. Instead of focusing on giving up things, there are many things we can do, things that could reawaken our sensibilities to the amazing things God has done in our midst.

Therefore, I would like to offer my list of 101 concrete ways to combat our culture of scarcity in which we now live. All these things, while seemingly small or even trivial, can be very spiritual and concrete actions that can help us from day to day. I am not endorsing any particular companies nor attempting to advertise any businesses, but simply referencing local ideas that may serve to help you discern how you may be able to accomplish some of these ideas. Maybe you can create your own 101 ideas and act on them.

1. Pray. 

2. Pray.

3. Pray some more. 

4. Read the Gospel of Mark 

5. Vacuum the floor 

6. Concentrate on paying off a debt (start with the smallest) 

7. Clean the work bench in the garage 

8. Take someone out for dinner 

9. Get rid of clutter around a specific area 

10. Turn off the evening news on television 

11. Compete your tax return 

12. Smile at someone and wish them a good day 

13. Mop the kitchen floor 

14. Join a menʼs or womenʼs faith sharing group 

15. Clean out that junk drawer 

16. Walk around the block noticing things around you 

17. Give out socks to the homeless 

18. Clean up that mess on your computerʼs desktop 

19. Attend Mass during the week 

20. Donate unused clothes to a local charity 

21. Read the Acts of the Apostles 

22. Read a book about the faith 

23. Wash your clothes 

24. Clean the inside of the car 

25. Serve at a soup kitchen 

26. Make a random donation to your favorite charity 

27. Go to Confession 

28. Watch an uplifting TV program 

29. Eat some chocolate 

30. Wash the car of a family member without letting them know 

31. Serve once at Coffee and Donuts on Sunday 

32. Take up a new hobby such as photography or woodworking 

33. Start playing your favorite sport 

34. Mail $20 to someone anonymously 

35. Open the drapes/blinds in the house 

36. Go on a retreat 

37. Clean up your e-mail on your computer 

38. Visit some children 

39. Attend Evening Prayer at Mount Angel Abbey 

40. Go camping as a retreat… bring a bible and a journal 

41. Adopt a pet from a shelter

42. Exercise 

43. Watch an old favorite movie that you haven’t seen in a long time

44. Write a snail-mail letter/card to someone who may need it  

45. Start a Facebook account and connect with friends

46. Go on a homeless immersion retreat with JOIN  

47. Do something “green” (ie. use a recyclable bag when shopping, unscrew one light bulb in the house, turn off unused lights, avoid using plastic bags)

48. Go to the Zoo, OMSI, or Evergreen Air & Space Museum 

49. Make an effort to tell someone what yo appreciate about them 

50. Take a Sunday drive 

51. Visit St. Rita's Retreat or the Trappist Abbey or other retreat Center

52. Go on a wine-tasting tour with a friend

53. Go to/rent an uplifting or thought provoking movie 

54. East some popcorn with butter 

55. Mow the lawn 

56. Offer your time as a Eucharistic Minister or Lector at Mass 

57. Go to the coast or mountains for a day 

58. Paint something 

59. Go for a bike ride 

60. Drive the scenic route 

61. Share a funny story about yourself with someone and laugh at yourself 

62. Listen to your favorite (uplifting) song 

63. Curl up with your spouse 

64. Look at funny animal pictures on the Internet 

65. Go watch some live music 

66. Go fishing 

67. Go to see some amazing waterfalls (Multnomah, Silver Creek, etc.) 

68. Clean the siding of your house 

69. Do an online retreat: ie. Creighton University or Sacred Space or Loyal Press

70. Work in your garden 

71. Try a new food 

72. Go skiing, sledding, or tubing, thankful for God's gift of recreation

73. Take someone to a play performance 

74. Go to bed early and get up early 

75. Read about the Lives of the Saints 

76. Build a model 

77. Go garage-saling or window shopping instead of regular shopping

78. Enroll in a class that you've always wanted to take 

79. Send flowers anonymously (or not) to someone who may need them 

80. Pray the rosary

81. Clean the garage 

82. Learn to play the guitar (maybe lessons?) 

83. Take a class to use your computer better 

84. Spread good news about someone behind their back 

85. Lounge in a hammock in the backyard, weather permitting 

86. Go on a Marriage Encounter Weekend 

87. Read the Book of Lamentation 3:21-24 

88. Go Geocaching with a friend 

89. Turn off your cell phone for a day

90. Let someone cut in front of you in traffic

91. Instead of watching television, read a book about the Faith

92. Go for a walk picking up garbage as you go 

93. Pay for the car behind you in the drive thru 

94. Go tent camping in your backyard or living room 

95. Spend an hour in silent prayer listening (not talking) to God

96. Help a neighbor with a project 

97. Wear Shorts, flip-flops, and a Hawaiian Shirt all day 

98. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

99. Walk around your town's center plaza (ie. Waterfront Park and Pioneer Square in Portland)

100. Take a day trip to Mt. Ashland, Mt. Hood, Mt Shasta, Mt. St. Helens, or a nearby mountain

101. Write your own list of 101 Spiritual Acts in a Culture of Scarcity


'cause I just couldn't stop, here's some more... 


102. Rent a canoe or kayak and take it to your favorite lake 

103. Make an inspiring music video or slide show 

104. Crank up an uplifting song in your house and dance 

105. Hug a friend 

106. Go for a helicopter ride 

107. Watch a silly movie with a friend 

108. Call a person on the phone with whom you haven't talked in a long time 

109. Donate money to a charity 

110. Babysit a relative's child so they can go on a date 

111. Drive someone to Mass 

112. Take a day off from work and spend it doing goo deeds for others

113. Thank someone for something they've done, and mean it.

114. Listen to someone and don't talk

115. Thank God for all you've been given

116. Volunteer to tutor someone

117. Create your own "Bucket List". Watch the movie of the same name 

118. Accept others where they are at and not where they should be

119. Make breakfast for dinner

120. Rearrange your furniture

121. Volunteer at your Church

122. Give a lottery ticket to someone

123. Post a positive comment on someone's blog/web page

124. Stay local during Spring Break and enjoy God's creation in your own zip code

125. Give a phone card to a homeless person

126. Write a thank you to someone who has made a difference in your life

127. Visit a animal shelter and pet the dogs and cats

128. Powerwash the driveway

129. Whistle a happy tune while walking around

130. Invite friends over for a car washing party

131. Go skydiving

132. Donate blood

133. Fast one meal and give a sack lunch to a homeless person

134. Tell your parents how grateful you are to them

135. Bring cookies or sweets to share with your coworkers

136. Submit an editorial in the newspaper about how great life is

137. Praise a fellow employee to their boss

138. Take flowers and a get well card to someone in the hospital who has none

139. Leave an anonymous note on the windshield of someone's car wishing them a great day

140. Share your concessions with those around you at a sporting event

141. Buy a gift certificate for a dinner for two and anonymously mail it to someone you know

142. Donate stuff or time to a fundraiser

143. Help someone with their homework

144. Donate food or money to the St. Vincent de Paul

145. Donate blankets, sheets, towels, socks, and toiletries to a homeless shelter

146. Volunteer at a Special Olympics Event

147. Volunteer to do simple work at your church's office

148. Clean out your refrigerator

149. Volunteer to pet-sit for a neighbor or friend

150. Create a web site for a non-profit group

151. Volunteer with your local Habitat for Humanity group

152. Sing along to the radio or a CD playing your favorite Christian song

153. Search the Internet for "stories of hope"

154.  Visit an art, history, or nature museum

155. Get a Twitter account and follow your favorite people

156. Paint your mailbox in a creative way.

157. Get a massage

158. Visit someone in a nursing home

159. Hike the nearest mountain

160. Go for a scooter ride.

161. Give yourself $1 to feed yourself all day

162. E-mail someone whom you haven't communicated with in a while

163. Go on a homeless immersion retreat with JOIN

164. Volunteer at your church

165. Go to a park and photograph wildlife

167. Sleep in your guest room or living room floor instead of your own bedroom

168. Volunteer to help clean someone's home who can't do it themselves

169. Volunteer to go shopping for someone who is homebound

170. Rent an inspirational movie

171. Drive slower and notice the things around you

172. Anonymously mail some money to someone who needs it

173. Take someone to lunch or dinner

174. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Make sure to say hi to everyone you meet.

175. Write and mail a greeting card to someone who could use some support

176. Go to the library and seek out an inspirational book

177. Invite someone to go with you to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a.k.a. confession)

178. Pray for someone you dislike

179. Pray Morning Prayer 

180. Drink a glass of water, thankful to have clean water

180. Join a prayer chain

182. Clean your bathroom

183. Choose to fast for a day

184. Go visit the local Pet Shelter/Humane Society

185. Read a book about a Saint

186. Lock up your credit card and pay down your debt

187. Read a Psalm of Praise such as Ps. 104 or 145 or 150... find your favorite

188. Clean out unused or old food in your kitchen

189. Go bird watching

190. Create a list of things for which you are thankful

191. Attend a youth sports game

192. Go to a lily farm

193. Ride the local bus system from one side of the metro area to the other. Notice things around you.

194. Give up music for a period of time

195. Fast from carbon by giving up your electronics

196. Go bowling or play putt-putt-golf with a friend

197. Go to your local Farmer's Market or Flee Market (ie. Saturday Market in Portland)

198. Tell others how thankful you are about the weather (a.k.a. don't complain about the weather)

199. Listen carefully to the person with you before talking about your own stuff

200. Pray that God will do what is best for the politician you dislike the most

201. Find out what a dollar will buy in a 3rd world country.

202. Make someone laugh

203. Call mom and/or dad every day and tell them that you love them

204. Site quietly for 5 minutes and listen to your breathing

205. Buy a couple of bags of groceries and give it to a needy family

206. Donate money to your local Catholic or faith-based School

207. Join a choir

208. Make your bed

209. Take a neighbor's dog for a walk

210. Unplug your TV and put it in the garage for a month or two

211. Do some spiritual reading online

212. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours

213. Use our FORMED subscription to do an online mini-retreat. 


Ideas from Busted Halo.com

214. Make a commitment to read the Sunday scriptures before you go to Mass.

215. Sign up or just go spend an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. 

216. Think about what you usually spend your money on. Do you buy too many clothes? Spend too much on dinner out? Pick one type of expenditure that you’ll “fast” from during Lent, and then give the money you would usually spend to a local charity.

217.  Commit to 40 days of letter writing, 40 acts of kindness, 40 phone calls to the important people in your life.

218. When you first sit down in front of your computer at work, or at the very end of your workday, try a 10-minute guided prayer from Sacred Space based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.

219. If you don’t have a cross in your house, buy a simple one and put it in your bedroom.

220. Artist: Spend time each day drawing or taking a picture of something that reminds you of God’s love in creation. Maybe post it on your social media account to share with others.

221. Read the entire Gospel of Mark in one sitting.

222. Attend the Stations of the Cross. There are many online versions as well.

223. Get some friends together on Friday’s and have a simple meatless dinner

224. Unplug from your iPhone or turn off your car radio on your commute. The silence may be jarring at first, but you may find that you are able to concentrate better and will be more observant of your surroundings.

225. Buy a book of daily reflections and keep it by your bed.

226. Think about a habit that has kept you from being whom God is calling you to be. Consciously give up that habit for Lent.

227. Spend at least one weekend or evening volunteering during Lent. Cook a meal and give it to someone who is on the streets. Visit the elderly. 

228. Make a commitment to fast from insensitive, cruel comments about others. So, no gossiping or going down the Twitter rabbit hole.

229. Participate in a small faith sharing group.

230. As a part of your Lenten almsgiving, make a point to learn more about a particular social issue (immigration, human trafficking, racism, the environment, public education, child poverty). Give money to an organization related to your chosen issue that supports the dignity of the human person.


Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Dear Parishioners,

We are now at the peak of the flu season.  Last weekend, I shared that we are trying to be sensitive to this health issue. Similarly, many parishes have been concerned and have asked for guidance from the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship. Here are their guidelines which they offered:

1. While communion under both species has “a more complete form as a sign when it is received under both kinds,” [GIRM 281], it is not always necessary or advisable.

2.  It is left to the prudent judgment of the pastor whether communion under both kinds should be offered during a period in which there is a high incidence of colds and the flu.

3. If Communion under both kinds is retained those who are not feeling well should refrain from receiving from the chalice, and should receive Holy Communion under the form of bread alone to avoid transmitting any illness.

4. Due to the fact that our hands are often transmitters of the cold and flu, care should be taken that:

a. No one should ever be permitted to self-intinct (dip) the consecrated host into the Precious Blood. The practice is prohibited by law and its result can be the unknowing transmission of illness.
b. In place of the regular way of offering the sign of peace a nod of the head and a verbal greeting of peace rather than the shaking of hands during this cold and flu season may be used.
c. Holding hands during the Our Father should be discouraged.

5. Those who are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the parish church or those involved in ministry to the homebound should take special precautions. They should heed all health directives by frequently washing their hands and avoiding contact with others, especially those most susceptible to illness.

6. Catholics who are ill are excused from Sunday worship out of respect and concern for their fellow worshipers. Catholics who are ill may make a spiritual communion during the time of their illness.

So, I believe it prudent during all Masses to refrain from offering the chalice, discouraging shaking hands at the Sign of Peace, as well as from holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer.  It is my hope that fewer people will communicate the flu virus while at Mass.  Thank you for your understanding and patience, as this may be a source of sacrifice, especially for those for whom the chalice is the only way they receive communion due to celiac disease.  In these cases, a blessing and spiritual communion is the best that can be offered. These practices will be in place through the end of February where we expect to return to our regular practices.


Fr. William Holtzinger

Mini-Campaign - Thank You - Church Dedication

Mini-Campaign - Thank You - Church Dedication

Dear Parishioners,

This past week, we held our annual min-campaign for the continuing process of our Honoring Our Past - Building Our Future Capital Campaign. This process will continue annually through five years. The goal is to steward our pledge sources so as to ensure the stability of the campaign while also attempting to make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate. We are very aware that each year there will be parishioners who move, have a reduction in pay or hours, lose a job, get sick, have an unexpected change in finances, and even pass away.  This can destabilize a percentage of pledges. On the other hand, each year new people move into the area and join our parish, others get a new job or a raise, others come into a new-found financial prosperity, and others have completed their pledge and desire to continue to help financially. It is for these and many other reasons why the campaign program calls for an annual process.  

So, I want to thank all of you who generously made a pledge or renewed your pledge this past week. I also want to thank the crew of dedicated parishioners who came each evening to the church and made phone calls to prospective donors.  If some folks didn’t make a pledge, it was still important to reach and let them know that they are an important part of our parish and that we truly appreciate all their prayerful support. 

This is an exciting time.  I called the office of the Archbishop and got a tentative date for Archbishop Sample to come and dedicate our new church.  At this time, we are looking to September 1st.  Pencil that date in our calendars, but be prepared with your handy eraser too. As the completion date gets closer, I will make sure to let us all know with more certainty the date and time for our first Mass and dedication.


Fr. William Holtzinger

Thank You!

Thank You!

Dear Parishioners,

Merry Christmas and happy new year!  As I look back on 2017, I have much to be thankful for.

This year is one that has been dominated by our church building project, a project that has continued to amaze and inspire me. With the guidance of our Design Committee and Finance Committee, what was going to be a simple building with mostly reused items has now become a design of true noble simplicity and beauty. The capacity to make this happen is due to the faith and amazing generosity of parishioners and friends of St. Anne’s.  We set many goals that most of us doubted could become reality.  Yet, we now stand with over $4 million in pledges and donations. Some of our basic or simple ideas have blossomed into things we didn’t think were possible.  I am talking about the addition of a daily Mass chapel, bathrooms which meet code and ADA standards, a new statue of Mary which matches the St. Joseph statue, a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, beautiful doors throughout, new padded pews, a new altar and ambo, carpet and tile throughout the major parts of the building, confessionals, a children’s cry room, and… wait for it… stained glass windows!

Besides the financial and physical aspects of the building project, it is fair to say that most everyone involved have gotten to know more people in our parish. Having Mass in the Sky Room has brought us closer together. We have been more focused on that which is most important. For me, Mass and preaching have been so much more rich. Being so close to everyone at Mass has brought an intimacy that is akin to our mission churches. Sharing the Eucharist in our smaller space has brought a focus about the most important things and a detachment about those things that are less so.

I am thankful for all that God has been doing in our midst. It is beyond my full comprehension, but I am so glad to be part of this community at this time in our history. I pray that you and yours have experienced joy amidst the changes ongoing in our parish this year. Thank you for all you have and continue to do to make St. Anne Church what she is!


Fr. William Holtzinger

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

Dear Parishioners,

Last week, I wrote about how, as Church and evangelization, it is all about Sunday Mass.  Sunday Mass brings in the most people at any discrete time which leverages the potency and ability to evangelize, not just ourselves, but those who are new, visiting, or passing through.  No ministry of our parish does this, nor can it. The Liturgy, the Mass, is the “Source and Summit” of our faith according to the Second Vatican Council. So if it is true that it is all about Sunday, what does this mean about Christmas? Well, let me ask a few simple questions. Isn’t Christmas the single most attended set of Masses in the year? Doesn’t it bring in more people than any other time, many of whom we don’t know? Doesn’t Christmas also bring people to us from other Christian traditions, others who are not Christian, others who are seekers, others who are broken-hearted, others who are mourning, others who are in need? Doesn’t this time draw our family members to Mass with us, and even some when they would not otherwise attend Mass? The answer to these questions is, “YES!”  And because this is so true, all the more we should be mindful of our calling, as Church, when they come on Christmas, to put forward our best efforts to be hospitable, kind, generous, open, and loving. Of course, we should be this way all the time, but at Christmas, this is the most potent time to share the Gospel. Remember, we are called to be an alter cristus, “another christ” to our neighbors.

So, if it is all about Sunday, then in terms of evangelization, it is all about Christmas! Christmastime needs to be our focus and we should be thinking, “All Hands Aboard!” This is why we have so many Masses. Sure, we could cut down on a Mass or two and everyone might still fit. It would be very efficient, reduce our workload, and get us home faster.  But, this is what is called, “church-think.” We employees or leaders of ministries are most prone to this way of thinking. Church-think puts the focus on ourselves, the minister, volunteer, or dedicated parishioner in the pews, and not on others who are new or in need. It pays no attention to what is best for others nor considered the situations in which they live. It is essentially selfish and antagonistic to what it is to be Church, that is evangelizers who desire to share and spread the Good News. We could have one single Christmas Eve or Day Mass by renting the largest space possible which would hold all who will come to that Mass, but that would be evangelical suicide. By having only one time, one door, so-to-speak, for people to come to our Christmas Eve Mass, we are very likely going to lose many people who couldn’t make that one small window of time. In our mission of St. Patrick of the Forest, the same applies. We could have one Mass and the community could likely all fit, but then they would miss out on this potent chance to share the Good News with those who couldn’t make that singular time. In fact, by having two Masses, they double the chances to proclaim the Good News to the newcomer. Another way of looking at this can be seen in the words St. John Paul II spoke when, at his first Mass as pope in 1978, he challenged the Church to, “open wide the doors to Christ.” He challenged us all to get out of our shells, our narcissism, our fears, our tribalisms, and any other things which keep us, and the Faith, to ourselves. He challenged us not to fear. He asked us to help him to serve so as to help humanity know what its true calling is. And what is it?  What is all our calling? To be saints! We are being called to put our Lord first and proclaim the Gospel.

So what are some ways we can put this into practice? Here are some thoughts and recommendations. Consider parking further away than normal so that newcomers will be able to park closer. Sit in the center of a row instead of at the edges so that new people will more easily find a place at Mass. Thank someone for letting you sit next to them. Be willing to move aside to help someone else sit down. Give up your seat if you see others standing, especially those with physical issues and sacrifice yourself by standing at Mass. If you are a liturgical minister, make sure you sign up for a slot, show up early, and even consider helping out at an additional Mass since we will all be stretched thin in this regard. Do not complain or gossip about others. Guests hear this and make judgements very quickly as to what kind of community we are or are not. Smile even if it kills you. Be the first to apologize if there is a misunderstanding. Introduce yourself by name to anyone you don’t know sitting near you. Be gracious while in the parking lot or walking to and from your car.  Wish others a blessed Christmas. Bring some, pre-signed, Christmas cards with you and give them to others, especially those whom you don’t know. Thank others for their presence at Mass, especially if don’t know them. Compliment someone for their good singing. Pray for the person who appears distressed, or otherwise struggling. Be nice to the priests, for they have fourteen Masses to cover from that Saturday night to Christmas Day. Share how happy you are to be part of this faith community. Don’t share your personal pet peeves… honestly, nobody wants to hear them. Wish those around you a blessed Christmas. And I’m sure there are many more ideas each one of us could come up with, right? Please let me know if you have some creative ideas in this regard.

So, remember, in terms of parish evangelization, it is all about Christmas.  Do not give into thinking about yourself, rather be other-centered. Love, laugh, smile, and encourage. Nobody can challenge honest joy. And may this Christmas be one that gives God the glory for his faithful will have lived out out their calling. I look very much forward to celebrating this time with you all!


Fr. William Holtzinger

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part I

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part I

Dear Parishioners,

Many Catholic theologians, apologists, and evangelists have said, “It’s all about Sunday!”  What they mean is that not only is Sunday the Lord’s Day which we Catholics consider our weekly holy day of obligation (yes, Saturday evening counts too!), but it is on Sunday that we experience the greatest encounter with our faith community as well as visitors.  There is no other experience that gathers us so profoundly. So, as Church, we are called to share the Good News, to evangelize. This isn’t simply what we are supposed to do, it is what the Church is! The Church exists to evangelize. So, there is no greater moment than Sunday Mass to hear the Word proclaimed, receive the Eucharist, and to be equipped to be sent out on mission.  The word “mission” comes from the Latin word “to go out.” This is where we get the name of our Liturgy, “Mass.” The call to go out and proclaim the Gospel is such a potent reason to gather that we call our Liturgy, “The Mass.”

So, Sunday is the greatest time we can hear the word and be present to the Sacrifice of the Lord who gives himself to us in the Eucharist.  Sunday is the most potent time for us ministers to preach the Gospel for the most people to hear at once. Our hope is that in the Mass, we are transformed, changed to become the saints we are called to be. It is also our hope that for those who are seeking, struggling, mourning, and suffering, the Mass will lift them up and give them the strength, through to God’s grace, to carry on in hope.  Daily Mass holds these same graces, but Sunday Mass reaches over ten times the number of people.  In marketing terms, this is called “distribution.” Sunday is the most potent and efficient day to distribute the Good News of Christ’s loving mission.

What Mass is not is merely a social hour. It is not just a time to see our friends. It is not a time to be entertained or watch people. Mass is not a weekend obligation that we must fulfill so that we don’t feel guilty. It is not a time for us to get together to encourage and/or isolate ourselves or shun the world. It is not a time to placate God, our spouse, or anyone else. It is not even about you. It is essentially none of these things. It is all about God and the saving work of his Son who poured out the Holy Spirit to vivify us to live the life of greatness for God.  So, in that context, Mass is a time lay down our burdens before God and exchange our sorrows for joy.  It is a time to offer our sacrifices to the Lord as well as conform ourselves to his likeness. It is a time to be challenged and wooed by the proclamation of God’s living Word. It is a time to love our neighbor who is sitting next to us and to be sent out into the world to love the stranger and even our enemy. Mass is a time allow the Holy Spirit in and change us from the inside out. It is a time to give God all the the glory. It is a time to let him change us…. to be recreated, renewed, renovated, rejuvenated, repented, redeemed, and reconciled. At Mass God calls us and changes us to be an alter cristus (Latin), another Christ for others. Sunday is all this and more. As people conformed to Christ, we must share this Good News so that others may also encounter him who can do all these things, as he has done for us. Sunday is a time for us to be Church, be Evangelizers, to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord in our words and lives.

So, if our lives as Catholic Christians is all about Sunday, then what does that mean for Christmas? Learn next week.


Fr. William Holtzinger


Gratitude & Thanksgiving

Gratitude & Thanksgiving

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we heard from Proverbs the value of a loving wife. The Psalm reminds us of how blessed we are with our children. Thessalonians reminds us that we are children of the light, not darkness. In the Gospel of Matthew, we heard that the one who stewards well the talents they have been given will enter into our Master’s joy.  In all these things, what is our response?  

It could be one of worry for all the times we have fallen short of God’s standard.  Maybe it is one of regret for the times we have taken our spouse for granted and are guilty of not being as loving as we should be. It could be one of fear, for we may realize that, too often, we have been anything but sober and alert. It could be of sadness for we may have squandered parts of our lives with the talents our Lord has given us. These concerns are worthy of consideration.  They are all worthy of reflection as an action of examining our consciences in light of the Scriptures. There may even be true reasons for concern about our state of relationship with God and our neighbor. I think we should all take these challenges seriously.  But, I would also like to remind us that this is half of the story.

The other half of the story revolves not around how we have failed, but what God has done for us, how our Lord is always there waiting to restore us back to him. I would like to propose that given all our challenges in our lives, we have plenty of reasons for joy and gratitude not despite our failures and sufferings, but through them. God sent his Son who suffered death for us and rose so that our sufferings would not have the final say. Through Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, our Lord can bring grace and restoration when we join our suffering and dying to his, because the other half of the story, the reason Jesus came, was to save us. 

In just a few short days, we as a nation will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I would like to invite you all to Mass on that day (8 AM).  Between now and then, ponder on where you have fallen short, repent and as our Lord to forgive you, and then give thanks for his goodness. On the Mass of Thanksgiving Day, as is my little custom, I turn the homily time towards an opportunity for all present to express, publicly, what they are grateful for.  We must not keep our praise and thanksgiving to ourself.  We must express our gratitude for all that God has given us.  So, between now and then, consider all that God has gifted you with.  Come to that Mass, lay down your burdens, offer your sacrifice, and exchange it for gratitude. We are a Eucharistic people the word, “eucharist,” meaning “thanksgiving.”

May we all give praise and thanksgiving all the days of our lives.


Fr. William Holtinger

Q & A: "Black Vestments?"

Q & A: "Black Vestments?"

Q: Fr. Bill, you wore black vestments at the All Souls Day Mass.  I thought black vestments were pretty much abandoned after Vatican II.  What is their status?  Do you wear them when you preside at funerals?

A: Good question!  The short answer is, no, black was not abandoned. However, the preferred option for funerals is first, white, then purple and black as options. It is true that black has fallen out of popular favor so much so that it may appear that it was forbidden. But, that is just perception.

Before I discuss this further, I must share the meanings by these three liturgical colors: White expresses hope in resurrection, holiness, hope, and baptism. Violet expresses reconciliation, repentance, and mercy.  Black signifies mourning, death, sin, and judgement. This latter color may seem to focus on the negative, but, these are realities in our lives which sometimes we need to be reminded about.

The official three color choices for All Souls Day are the same as they are for any funeral. According to the instructions to the Order of Christian Funerals (a.k.a. OCF): 

“The liturgical color chosen for funerals should express Christian hope but should not be offensive to human grief and sorrow.  In the United States, white, violet, or black vestments may be worn at the funeral rites and at other offices and Masses or the dead” (§39). 

I have worn white vestments at funerals in all the parishes where I have been assigned. It has been my pastoral judgement that white has helped the congregation remember that through the waters of baptism, their loved one has died with Christ and that we hold the hope close that their loved one will rise again with him (cf. OCF §160). In the initial rites of the funeral, we place a pall over the casket which I have only seen in white, though violet and black are still options. Therefore, I have made efforts to make sure that the vestments match and carry on a congruent sign conferred by the pall. The white pall symbolizes the white garment placed on a newborn baby who has just been baptized.

That being said, I concelebrated a funeral with Archbishop Sample on the sad occasion of the tragic death of a young adult from the Umpqua Community College shootings back in 2015. There, the priests concelebrants were told to wear violet vestments. In the archbishop’s pastoral judgement, he was giving attention to the guidance by the OCF, where it states:

“The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God’s mercy and judgment and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis” (§7).

So, not only is hope something that is needed at a funeral, but so too is our need to seek out God’s mercy. The tragic nature of some events draw us close to this opportunity of God’s consolation which brings us to repentance and a desire for mercy in our own lives.

Back to All Souls Day. I made a pastoral decision to wear black for many reasons, some theological, some psychological, some liturgical, and some even pragmatic.  I wanted us to be mindful of the reality of Purgatory and the journey that many of the deceased whom we are praying for may be very well experiencing it and need our prayers. Additionally, I wanted us to recognize our own emotional sensibilities to the reality of their deaths and the loss their deaths have played in our lives. Mourning, while not something we like to do, is deeply important to our healing.  When we don’t mourn our losses, we continually carry them with us, and occasionally they come out in some of the most inappropriate ways and situations. Black emotes these feelings of sadness, recognizing and legitimizing them in our lives. When I bought my black chasuble, I purposely chose one that also had violet in it which, I hope, helped us remember our need to repent of our own sins in view of our own coming death and look to God for our only hope. Liturgically speaking, black carries well all these reasons and we hardly ever, if at all, see this color option used in the Mass. It has occurred to me many times that we should not completely forget or abandon our liturgical heritage, and that finding appropriate places to harken back to our sacred tradition keeps us grounded and mindful of who we are as Catholics. I’ve purposely done this in other areas too. You might have noticed that over all, the priests chant more of the Mass than in decades previous. The new Roman Missal has been the driving force for that change.  I’ve heard many times soon after receiving the Missal that we were chanting more.  Simply, it is was one of the various things the reform of the missal called for.  You might also notice that during Lent, as a community we chant the Mass parts during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and at some solemnities we use incense and bells.  Finally, on the pragmatic side of things, until last year, I have never worn a back vestment. But, after seeing this particular chasuble at a bargain price, I thought I would buy it for the few times I might want to use it, All Souls Day being the case use I had in mind. 

Finally, thank you for the question and I hope this helps more of us expand our understanding of the wealth of our Catholic theology and tradition.


Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastoral Ministry Update

Pastoral Ministry Update

Dear Parishioners,

I just thought I’d give you an update as to what has been going on regarding St. Anne’s pastoral ministries since the departure of Carolyn Trumble and Randi Lauby. Their departures have made an immediate impression as to how much work they had been doing. Their absence has also shown how valuable they were to us. I certainly wish to lift them up and wish them the best in their new ventures. Upon their departures, I immediately opened up both positions and formed a search committee. The results were that we did not hire anyone for either position.  This has left us in a tough spot. Yet, I am confident that God is at work, though I must admit, I don’t fully know how.  I do know that we need to reset and rethink these positions and plan to start our search over in the Spring. That being said, good things have been happening ever since.

Regarding ministry for our children, Jennifer Perez, wife of Ramey Perez our Coordinator of Music Ministry, stepped forward to temporarily steward our Faith Formation for Children.  She had been already serving in a support role for Carolyn, so she knows our history and direction going forward. Her role is that of coordinating the catechists for our grade schoolers in Faith Formation as well as RCIC. Sandra Lopez, whom we hired earlier in the year, has continued to serve in many wonderful ways to help Faith Formation, Youth Ministry, and has been an effective liaison to our Hispanic community, maintaining our commitment to serving all of parishioners regardless whether they speak English or Spanish.

Regarding Youth Ministry, our Confirmation classes began this past week, lead by Reneé and Gabe Snodgrass with catechists, Sean and Kristin Bachmann, and Nilda Arms serving in the very needed administrative role.  The Confirmation classes will run concurrent with Faith Formation each week.  At this writing, there is no program for gathered events (aka “Youth Nights”) for Middle School or High School on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s, respectively.  This remains a hole we need to fill. So, I will be hosting a “Youth Ministry Summit” for anyone who has an interest in these two age groups.  Parents, teens, and any adults are welcome to attend.  I will be hosting that meeting at 9:30 AM on Sunday the 22nd of October in the Kelly Youth Center.  Please come with your thoughts, questions, ideas, and most of all, passion to help lift up our young ones in our parish.  Despite not having a youth minister or a concrete plan for youth nights, we are committed to host vicariate event for teens called, XLT, which is basically praise and worship along with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Fr. Jeff Eirvin, the Vocation Director of the Archdiocese, will be the guest speaker and will share his thoughts on our vocational call.  That will take place on November 10th at 7 PM the Kelly Youth Center.

Many ministries are in transition this year. That means change which can be very hard at times.  I want to thank all who have been prayerfully supporting our ministries, and ask you to please continue.  If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me.


Fr. William Holtzinger

A Christian Response to Evil

A Christian Response to Evil

As I write this column (Monday, Oct.2), our country experienced another act of senseless violence, this time in Las Vegas. We feel angry, sad, helpless, a sense of despair, paranoid, and maybe even hopeless. All of these are legitimate feelings. But, I encourage us all to be mindful of how long we entertain these feelings and then seek out our Lord via prayer, Scripture, and the Church. With regard to the Church, the best response I found was from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the president of the United State Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas. At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering.  In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Cardinal DiNardo’s comments not only comfort, but give us things we can and should do.  First, pray. The Lord hears our prayers. This is a way of taking care of those who are suffering including ourselves. When others suffer, we suffer with them. So, we need to ask God to protect our hearts from the arrows of the Evil One (Prov. 4:23). This includes the hearts of the victims and their families. Prayer also brings us closer to God who opens our hearts for love of others. Prayer can help keep us from despair and remind us that God cares deeply about us and those whose hearts are broken. Prayer can bring hope and courage even amidst tragedy, for we are reminded in prayer that God is by our side even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. By our communion with God, the Scriptures tell us, we can fear no evil, for God is with us (cf. Ps 23).

The second is to do good. As simple as this sounds, responding to evil with evil is most certainly not an answer that will accomplish anything better than what has happened (cf. 1 Peter 3:9).  Instead, we are to return good and blessings when evil is perpetrated. When we do good, we demonstrate that evil has no ultimate power.  It demonstrates that God is not idly watching, disinterested in our fate. In moments of horror and evil, great grace is given. (cf. Rom. 5:20). God can create good, even greatness from evil.  Our Lord is the master of the reversal. An example of this goodness can be found the various stories of those who selflessly helped the victims either escape or shuttle them to the hospital.  I’m sure we will hear more about how the police responded and did what they could to stop the massacre from getting worse. They should be acknowledged for their courage by putting their lives in harms way for the good of others. Another telling example of goodness following the massacre was the overwhelming response of people willing to donate blood when the request went out. 

Locally here in our faith communities, I have witnesses innumerable times when parishioners have gone through some incredibly dark and hurtful times, yet, they refused to be defined by it, and instead, chose to give of themselves in loving service. It is a saintly response to sin in our world, and when I have personally witnessed it, I am speechless, inspired, and challenged to the core. It is proof for me that God is in our midst and the Holy Spirit is moving to inspire us to greatness.

So, in the face of evil, we should stand together in prayer and goodness. We should not give in to the temptation for revenge, rage, fear, or sin. Satan is prowling and wanting to sift us all like wheat (Lk 22:31), but Jesus has interceded with his Father that our faith may not fail (Lk 22:32). Remember that evil will never prevail.  Indeed, Satan has already lost the war. In the meantime, we stand in solidarity responding with prayer and goodness.


Fr. William Holtzinger