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 10th. 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.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins tomorrow, Monday, January 18th and concludes a week later on the following Monday, January 25th, 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 at the Last Supper, “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.
In most circumstances, anniversaries are normally happy and welcome celebrations. Not so with Friday’s 42nd anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision permitting abortion on demand in our country. Our Bishops have asked us to observe this anniversary as a day of penance. 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 Friday 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.
In addition to prayers for our 2nd graders and their families this week, I’d like to call your attention to the various Prayer Lists that we have in our bulletin. We have additional requests for prayer in our Prayer List for Engaged Couples, our Prayer List for Expecting Parents, our Military Personnel Prayer List, the parish Sick List and our prayers for Those Who Have Died. Personal requests for our prayers are written in our Parish Book of Prayer in the Narthex. We also receive prayer requests for our guests at PADS on Monday evenings as well as those in the Nursing Homes and our RCIA and Confirmation Candidates. A good practice for the New Year is to check these prayer lists from time to time and to pray for those who have special needs. Taking time to pray for others can help put our own personal struggles in a good perspective.
Many of you many remember when Father Matt and his family auditioned in Chicago to be contestants on the TV game show “Family Feud.” Their local audition went so well that the producers of the show brought them to Atlanta last July where they appeared on “Family Feud.” Father Matt has been very quiet about the results of their appearance – until recently when he told us the show(s) that featured the Nathan Family will be aired this Thursday evening, January 21st at 6:00pm on WPWR, Channel 50. Our DVR is already programmed to record the show. We may have a celebrity in our midst!
Next weekend we will have the opportunity to join with the other parishes of our diocese in responding to the annual appeal for the Church in Latin America. This is one of twelve extra collections taken up over the course of the year for the support of the needs of the larger church community. Envelopes for this special collection have been included in the packet mailed to your homes. Thank you in advance for your generosity in responding to this appeal.
Monday, January 18th, is a civil holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our parish offices will be closed in observance of the holiday and reopen at 8:00am on Tuesday.
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.
Father Jim Murphy