By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 8, 2019
ATLANTA—It is one of the first signs of faith learned. Right hand to forehead, down to the lower middle of your chest, cross to the left shoulder, back to the right shoulder.
Did you know, we’ve been making this sign of the cross since as early as the third century? That makes it a tradition going back 1,800 years.
Franciscan Father Albert Haase is asking if our blessing ourselves has become too rote, routine, something that has lost its meaning.
He wants to unpack the familiar. His talks explore the identity of God found in the ancient gesture. Along with that, listeners will be encouraged to take up the challenges and responsibilities of sealing their lives with this sign of salvation. He is to speak for three nights at St. Oliver Plunkett Church, Snellville, beginning Sunday, March 17.
His is one of the many spiritual talks and missions given in the Archdiocese of Atlanta during the season of Lent to help Catholics be renewed in a relationship with God and Jesus during the 40 days of the season.
And as Catholics are feeling troubled by actions of church leaders surrounding sexual abuse, Father Haase said Lent can be a time for believers to ground their faith in Jesus.
“Jesus Christ is always with us, even in the storms of life. We might not recognize him, but he is always present and he is always calling us beyond our comfort zone and sometimes asking us to do what we think is impossible,” said Father Haase in an email.
Father Haase is a preacher, teacher, spiritual director and guest on talk radio shows. He lived as a missionary in China for more than eleven years. He has authored 11 award-winning books on popular spirituality.
Here is a listing of parish Lenten missions:
ST. BRENDAN LENTEN MISSION: March 10 and 11; 6:30-8:30 p.m.; St. Brendan the Navigator Church, 4633 Shiloh Road, Cumming. Father John Bartunek, LC, will present “Becoming a Complete Christian.” Come for one evening or both, and expect to leave revitalized for this season of reflection and preparation. A former atheist, Father Bartunek joined the church in 1991 after discovering the faith through choir and was ordained a priest in 2003. The program is free and advance registration is not required. Contact: www.StBrendansATL.com.
CORPUS CHRISTI LENTEN MISSION: March 18-21; Confessions, 5:30 and 8:15 p.m.; Mission, 7 p.m.; Corpus Christi Church, 600 Mountain View Drive, Stone Mountain. Father Wade Menezes, CPM, of the Fathers of Mercy will present the four-night mission titled “Work Out Your Salvation!” The Fathers of Mercy are an apostolate devoted to providing missions and retreats around the country to help re-evangelize Catholics through confession and holy communion. Join Corpus Christi parishioners for a renewing of faith. Contact: 770-469-0395.
DIVINE MERCY LENTEN MISSION: March 24-26; 7 p.m.; Good Shepherd Church, 3740 Holtzclaw Road, Cumming. Speaker will be Father Dan Cambra, MIC, director of the Marian Evangelization Team. The mission will be on the devotion of Divine Mercy. Admission is free. Contact: Vicki Winslow at 770-894-2277.
ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE LENTEN MISSION: March 11-13; 7 p.m.; St. James the Apostle Church, 1000 Decatur Road, McDonough. Join “The Meal, the Man and the Mission: Three Nights to Create Your Best Easter Ever.” Presenter is Dr. Allen Hunt of Dynamic Catholic. Mission is free to attend. Contact: 770-957-5441, ext. 101 or Mara Martin at email@example.com.
ST. JOHN NEUMANN MISSION: March 25-27; 7 p.m.; St. John Neumann Church, 801 Tom Smith Rd., Lilburn, in the main church. Casting Nets will to bring its inspirational message, “Disciples on a Mission.” Topics will include: The Challenge of Discipleship, The Complete Gift of Self, and The Sever Pillars of Effective Evangelization. All are welcome. Contact: Jim Curtiss, liturgy coordinator, 770-923-6633, ext. 124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ST. OLIVER PLUNKETT MISSION: March 17-19; 7 p.m., St. Oliver Plunkett Church, 3200 Brooks Drive, Snellville. “Signed and Sealed with the Cross” will be presented by Father Albert Haase, OFM. Ordained a Franciscan priest in 1983, Albert Haase, OFM, is a former missionary to mainland China. He has trained spiritual directors for ten years. He is chaplain at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton, Texas. Visit his website at www.AlbertOFM.org.
ST. PHILIP BENIZI MISSION: March 23-27; 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. sessions; St. Philip Benizi Church, 591 Flint River Road, Jonesboro. The theme of the retreat is “Racism: Moving through Resistance to Reconciliation” and will be offered in both English and Spanish by Friar Michael Lasky, director of peace, justice and integrity of Creation Ministry for the Franciscan Friars Conventual; and Friar Fabian Esteban, vocation director for the friars and parochial vicar for Immaculate Conception Parish in Finlandia, Colombia. Morning sessions begin with 8:30 a.m. bilingual Masses and evening sessions begin at 7 p.m. in the church (Spanish) and the hall (English). Contact: www.stphilipbenizi.org.