A word from Pope Francis ~ “There is never a reason to lose hope. Jesus says: ‘I am with you until the end of the world.’”
I am sure that all of us could tell from the moment we walked into the Church 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. As best as we are able during these COVID-19 times, we have returned to the 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 17th. The faith challenge now before us is to recognize and respond to the Lord’s presence in the everyday moments of our lives.
Thank you to Zaira Defino and all of our Art & Environment volunteers who did a wonderful job in preparing the church 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 we celebrated during these special seasons. It was just a year ago that Zaira stepped up to become the new coordinator of the Art & Environment ministry. We appreciate your generous service to our parish.
We continue to join the faithful across our country in praying for a peaceful transition of power as our nation prepares for the presidential inauguration this Wednesday. We pray for an end to violence and hatred in all areas of our lives. We recognize our responsibility to pray for our leaders, both church and civil. We also recognize our responsibility as disciples of the Lord to be peacemakers wherever we may be.
COVID-19 pandemic or not, the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins tomorrow, Monday, January 18th and concludes the following Monday, January 25th – the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. 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. 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 Friday’s 48th 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 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. We will be having multiple celebrations throughout the week to allow for social distancing. Congratulations to our young people, their parents and teachers for bringing them to this point in their lives.
Next Sunday we have the opportunity to join with the other parishes of our diocese in responding to the combined collection for the Church in Latin America and Africa. This collection is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in two parts of the world in great need. Envelopes were included in the packet mailed to our homes or electronic contributions made on our website will be appreciated.
Please note that our Parish Offices will be closed on Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. We will reopen at 9:00am on Tuesday, January 19th. Weekday Mass on Monday will be celebrated at 7:00am.
We are now more than halfway 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. Be well and keep safe. God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy