A word from Pope Francis ~ “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
On this last Sunday in January, we celebrate the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time as we make our way through this brief stretch of Ordinary Time in the weeks between Christmas and Ash Wednesday. We continue our year-long reading of Matthew’s Gospel, picking up where we left off last week. Jesus began his preaching calling for repentance, and people responded, and disciples gathered around him. He now calls them all together and begins the first major discourse in Matthew’s Gospel – the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus, the teacher, lays out his vision for the Kingdom of God, beginning with the Beatitudes. Since Jesus has gathered both Jews and Gentiles before him – insiders and outsiders – he retains what is of value in the law of Moses, but then expands it to pass on a true image of the Father and our relationship with him. We are “blessed” when we live in right relationship with God.
This final week of January is our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. We have a long and proud history of Catholic education here at our parish. This week is a good time to celebrate our mission of passing on our faith tradition from one generation to the next. The school community will serve the parish community at the 10:00 am Mass by serving as lectors and greeters, and the School Choir will lead us in music. It is encouraging to see so many of our young people serving the parish in the different ministries of the Mass. The Knights of Columbus are joining in the celebration by sponsoring a Pancake breakfast in the Ministry Center from 8:00 am until noon. There will also be an Open House in the School from 11:00 am-noon. The school community will continue the celebration at their school Mass on Wednesday at 8:15am in the church. Various additional activities are planned for each school day throughout the week. We offer our prayers and thanks for our teachers, administrators, staff and all who share in the ministry of Catholic education.
Congratulations to our parish 2nd graders, who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time this past week. Services were held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday morning. It was great to celebrate this wonderful Sacrament of God’s healing with them and their parents. Congratulations also to their parents and teachers who have brought them to this special moment in their lives. We look forward to their First Communion celebrations during the Easter Season.
On Thursday, February 2, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. According to the Law of Moses (Exodus 13:12-16), firstborn males were to be dedicated to the Lord. At the time of Jesus, this was done by a ceremony in the Temple forty days after birth. Thursday’s Gospel reading gives us the details of Jesus’ presentation. Since that Mass normally begins with the blessing of candles, the Feast is also known as “Candlemas Day.” Blessed candles for home use will be available following our daily Masses on Thursday.
Friday, February 3 is the memorial of St. Blase. He was a bishop in Armenia and is believed to have been martyred in the persecutions in the early 4th century. He is associated with the healing of throats. Traditionally, we celebrate this memorial with the blessing of throats. We will be happy to offer this blessing at the end of our daily Masses on Friday.
With Easter being celebrated on April 9 this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 22. The kick-off date for the 2023 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal is scheduled to happen before Ash Wednesday. We will have the opportunity to hear about the 2023 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal over the weekend of February 11/12 and our In-pew Sign Up weekend will be over the weekend of February 18/19. Many of us have already received the 2023 Appeal mailing from Bishop Hicks. While the parish doesn’t get any “extra credit” for responses sent in before the In-pew Sign Up weekend, early responses can give us a positive boost toward reaching this year’s goal. My pledge was sent in last week!
We begin the shortest month of the year this Wednesday. The days are getting longer. Lent will begin in a few weeks, followed by Easter and spring. Notice the signs of new life all around us and take hope. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy