I am sure that all of us could tell from the moment we walked into the Church or the 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 March 6th. 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 spent the past seven weeks preparing the church and chapel for Advent and Christmas. They came at various hours when the spaces were free and worked their magic in setting the physical tone for our prayer. 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 began last Friday, January 18th and concludes next Friday, 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, “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. The theme for this year’s week of prayer is “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). I am grateful we had the opportunity to gather together last night with other Christians of our area at Heritage Presbyterian Church to pray for Christian unity. 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 Tuesday’s 46th 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 Tuesday 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 choir will join with us at the 8.30am Mass and lead us in our sung 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 join with the rest of the parishes of our dioceses today in responding to the annual appeal for the Church in Latin America. This is one of eleven extra collections taken up over the course of the year for the support of the needs of the larger church community. It is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters to the south whose pastoral and material needs are great. In response to this appeal, we will tithe 5% of our Offertory collection to the appeal for the Church in Latin America.
We are now more than half way through the month of January. Thankfully, the snow has been sporadic and the daily temperatures a bit warmer than the average. 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