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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,
We continue on our Lenten journey. Today, our 1stReading presents us with the beginning of the relationship God enters into with Abram, whose name God will later change to Abraham. God invites Abram to move, to leave his land to find a new home. It will be the beginning of many invitations to Abraham to follow Him and each time, Abraham listens. In a special way, it marks the beginning of God’s self-revelation that will continue and find its completion in the revelation of Jesus Christ—Son of God. For his obedience, God has designated Abraham, and his descendants, as those people through whom He will bless the entire world. We know those people to be the Jewish people. Abraham is their “father in faith,” but he is ours as well, for from him has come Jesus, through whom God’s blessings and grace will flow in abundance. And those people who believe in Him are now the new Chosen people, the new People of God — us.

Dear Friends,
I hope everyone made a good beginning of Lent by their observance of Ash Wednesday. Today is the 1stSunday of Lent. We all know about Lent. When I think about Lent, I think about “giving up,” about fasting, about the “color purple,” about A & P Catholics (ashes and palms, and for folks my age, “hot cross” buns (remember them?). Lent is filled with so many images. But Lent is really a journey. Theologically and liturgically it is a remembering, of Moses’ 40 days on Mount Sinai, of Elijah’s 40 day trek to that same mountain centuries later (and we will meet them again next week in the Gospel), of the 40 year journey of the Hebrews through the wilderness and the 40 day journey of Jesus through the desert. And for us, it is a 40 day reflection on our own journey through life, or, at least, through this past year. What it really should be for us is a 40 day examination of my interior life. Where am I in my life? How did I get here? Is this where I want to be? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? And how do I get there?

Dear Friends,
Today, I want to write on three separate themes. The first is the conclusion of my three columns asking for your support for the 2020 Annual Appeal. The first two areas of support were, I think, easy to understand, the support for vocations to the priesthood and the support for the work of Catholic Charities. The last two areas, while understandable, may not be as gripping. But they are as important, and even critical, to the work of the Church. They are Passing on the Faith and Proclaiming the Gospel. They are at the heart of what the Church is all about. In the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, before his Ascension, Jesus directs the Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19). It is the primary work of the Church to announce the Good News. Both Proclaiming the Gospel and Passing on the Faith are lived in fulfillment of Jesus’ command.

Dear friends,
“You are the light of the world.” These are the challenging words of last Sunday’s Gospel. I said several times last week this is one Gospel where no detailed theological explanation is needed. “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” It is your good deeds that will bring glory to God. And the variety of those good deeds are as many as the stars in the heavens and the sands on the shore of the sea.

Dear friends,
I hope you had the opportunity to read Cardinal Tobin’s letter which occupied this space in last week’s bulletin. In it, he shared with us the state of the health of Archbishop Emeritus John Myers and he asked for our prayers for him as his health declines. I would like to ask everyone to keep him in your prayers. I realize that over the years there have been many negative stories in the press about the retired Archbishop, but one thing is true, and I know this personally, he has always been good to Mount Carmel when it comes to the assignment of priests to our parish, even to the point of accepting specific suggestions that I have made. And so we have been served by some great priests during those years, Fr. Tom, Fr. Sean, Fr. Kevin, Fr. Carmine, Fr. Robert and Fr. Gino. When you think of them, say a prayer for the Bishop who, ultimately, sent them to us.

Dear Friends,
Fr. Kevin generously let me have my space back. OR I seized it back from him. You’ll have to figure that out. Seriously, I hope no one took too seriously his attempts at humor last week. I was grateful for his return to help re-create the Palestine scene as we celebrated the Nativity of the Lord. And I send him my prayers and good wishes at the thankless task of being a Bishop’s secretary. Even if it is Fr., oops, Bishop Peter.

Three things today. Two on the material side, one on the spiritual.

Dear All,
Happy New Year! I’m writing you from the arid land of New Mexico and in case you don’t remember, I’m the tall, skinny, pale priest with a mole on my right foot and an accent (basically Fr. Gino’s twin). A lot has happened since I left OLMC and I wanted to send you all an update as to where I am and what I am doing. I was fortunate in that Fr. Ron didn’t lock the doors and turn off the lights when I told him last December that I was going to be in the neighborhood. I was grateful to celebrate a Sunday mass and greet some of you, but I also had present those of you whom I didn’t get a chance to see or greet.

Dear friends,
The Church celebrates today the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and with it, the “official” end of the Christmas season. I’m sure most of your homes have, long ago, been undecorated. We will begin this process this very weekend as we invite anyone with a “green thumb” or, in this case, a “red thumb” to take a poinsettia plant home with them. By next Sunday everything will be back to “normal.” And the tree will go dark after the last mass Sunday night.

Dear friends,
Sometimes you may hear a priest or deacon make mention of The Office (Divine Office) or the Brev (short for Breviary), or the Prayer of the Church. All three names refer to the set of prayers (and readings) a priest or deacon recites every day as part of our “official” prayer life. Certain prayers and readings are assigned to specific “hours” of the day. The intent was and is to sanctify the different parts of the day by taking time out from regular duties to pray. Consequently a fourth name of these prayers is The Liturgy of the Hours.

Dear friends,
Given that two bulletins had to be prepared in the week before Christmas, and I celebrated the funeral of the son of close friends, I take the liberty to repeat last year’s column on Holy Family Sunday. I believe the words are as relevant today as last year.

Today is Holy Family Sunday, the day on which the Church celebrates family life and asks us to reflect on the family as the basic unit of society. It is the family in which we are nurtured and nourished and which, throughout our lives, offers the support that allows us to continue to grow and, at the same time, to be secure in the knowledge that there is a place where we are loved. It is in the family that we experience the ties that bind, bringing us together into the most intimate of all human relationships.

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