I am sure that all of us could tell from the moment we walked into the Church or Chapel today that we are now in a new season of our Church Liturgical Year. As is the case in our homes, gone are the decorations of Christmas. We have returned to the ordinary, everyday routines of our lives. This season of the Church Year is simply called “Ordinary Time.” We will be in the first part of this “green season” of the year until Ash Wednesday on February 18th. The faith challenge now before us is to recognize and respond to the Lord’s presence in the ordinary and everyday moments of our lives.
Thank you to Dorothy Jaskey and all of our Art & Environment volunteers who joined together in the church last Sunday afternoon and later in the chapel to transform those spaces from Christmas to Ordinary Time. Their dedicated work over the past few months made a major difference in each of the Masses and prayer services we held during these special seasons. We appreciate your generous service.
We are conducting the second of our annual Stewardship Renewal weekends this weekend, focusing on our Stewardship of Time. As we renew our Stewardship of Time commitments, I am preaching at each of our English Masses this weekend. Each household should have received their renewal materials in the mail this past week. I invite each of you to take the NEXT STEP in your stewardship journey and recommit to returning a portion of the gift of time – 1440 minutes each day – that the Lord has given you. As we focus on the Stewardship pillar of prayer this year, it will be good to take the next step with our greatest prayer, the Mass. For some, that may be attending more regularly. For others, it might mean arriving on time and not leaving early. Or preparing better by reading the Scripture readings before Mass. Or carefully listening as they are proclaimed to the community. Or consciously thinking of what we might be bringing with us to a particular Mass and offering that with the gifts. There are many possibilities as we ask what our next step might be. As I firmly believe in the importance of leading by example, my Stewardship of Time renewal form will be returned before I speak. Please join me in making your personal commitment this weekend as we take the NEXT STEP in being better stewards of our time.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today, January 18th and concludes next Sunday, January 25th – usually the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Since 1968 we have joined with other Christians throughout the world in praying as the Lord prayed, “that all may be one”(John 17:21). I suppose it is human nature to focus our attention on what divides us rather than on what we share in common. This annual week of prayer gives us the opportunity to recognize that there is more that unites us rather than divides us. Throughout this week we will keep the cause of Christian unity before us in our community prayer. And let us all, each in our own way, beseech the Lord to restore unity to the church.
In most circumstances, anniversaries are normally happy and welcome celebrations. Not so with Thursday’s 42nd anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision permitting abortion on demand in our country. The new Appendix to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “In all dioceses of the United States of America, January 22nd … shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person through acts of abortion and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.” We are all invited to remember this intention and to make Thursday a day of penance in reparation for all victims of the violence of abortion. Our daily Masses will focus on this day of penance and witness to our belief that all life is sacred.
We remember our parish 2nd graders and their families in prayer this week as they celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. Services will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and on Saturday morning.
Next Sunday, we begin our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. To help us begin the week, the Grade School community will join with us at the 8.30am Mass and lead us in prayer. They will continue their celebration of Catholic Schools Week throughout the week and especially at their regular Wednesday School Mass at 8:15am.
We are now more than half way through the month of January. Thankfully, the frigid temperatures did not linger in our area. This mid-month milestone is cause for rejoicing. Take care and keep healthy during the cold weather and flu season. God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.