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Academy of Our Lady

Fr. Ron's Blog


Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,
Random thoughts that run through an idle mind

My column on Easter Sunday began, “As I write this on the Monday of Holy Week, the temperature outside is only 36 but the sun is shining and the sky is a bright blue, and so, I can be hopeful we have actually seen the last of winter.”

How wrong I was. The day after that appeared, on Easter Monday, I was scheduled to leave for my first posthurricane Irma visit to the Missio in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I drove to Newark Airport that morning in a blinding snow storm. None of the roads, including the Turnpike, had been either plowed or salted. I can’t remember the last time I ventured out in a storm like that. And then a three and a half hour delay, but at least my flight got out, unlike many others that day.

Dear Friends,
Much like Easter Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, requires mentioning a few of the same things, year after year. First on the list is to say, “thank you.”

So, let me express my thanks to all those who helped make the Holy Week and Easter services so moving. A thank you to the people behind the scenes, Peggy and Patti in the office and, especially to Sal and Chris, from the maintenance staff, for weeks of hard work on the floors of the church, to make vanish the effects of the late-blooming winter. I want to especially say thanks to Fr. Robert and the liturgical ministers who planned and carried out some unique Masses/services which really happen only once a year. The servers seemed especially attentive and experienced in their tasks this year. The liturgies were so well done and, therefore, so spiritually moving.

Dear Friends,
As I write this on the Monday of Holy Week, the temperature outside is only 36 but the sun is shining and the sky is a bright blue, and so, I can be hopeful that we have actually seen the last of winter. And while I wish it would get warmer faster, the week ahead promises to be better than the first three weeks of March.

For the last several days, I have been looking at the rites for Holy Week. Because these celebrations come only once a year, most priests look them over in advance to be sure we know what we’re doing. While I was looking into the Easter Vigil celebration, at which I will preside, as we welcome two new adult members, and three children of catechetical age, into the Church, my attention was drawn to one particular part of the Vigil. Very early in the Vigil, after the congregation has processed into a darkened church, lit only by the single light of the Paschal Candle, the preeminent symbol of Christ, Who lights the world, Deacon Jakov will proclaim The Exultet, the Church’s proclamation of her Easter faith.

Dear Friends,
Below is a repeat of an article I wrote a few years ago and have re-printed several times already. The importance of Holy Week hasn’t changed; neither have my thoughts on the subject. For us, who call ourselves Christians, this is, in fact, the holiest week of the year. May each of us see the significance of these days and observe them accordingly...

With Palm Sunday, the Church begins the remembrance of Jesus’ last days on earth. Of special importance are the days of the Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday/the Easter Vigil. On these days, the Church looks at the events which have become the center of our salvation.

Dear Friends,
Through these Lenten readings, we continue on our journey with Jesus on this, the 5th Sunday of Lent. These closing verses of Chapter 12 mark the end of the so-called Book of Signs, the twelve chapters in the first part of the Gospel of John in which Jesus performs signs which point to Who He is – the Son of God. In today’s excerpted text, the arrival of Greeks is the fulfillment of the prophecy unknowingly uttered by the Pharisees (in verse 19) that the whole world is “going after him.” But their arrival gives Jesus the occasion once again to remind his disciples of his, now imminent, suffering and death for the life of the world. At Cana, He had told His mother that his hour had not yet come; now he announces His hour has come.

Dear Friends,
As I’m writing this column, it’s a Monday when the pages of the sports’ section of the papers are filled with stories from the Combine, that unique NFL weekend when college football players show their “wares” to a whole bunch of NFL coaches, GMs, scouts and other professionals, ahead of the April NFL draft. Interesting to see the pre-predictions of what teams want what player(s) and then compare it to the actual results of the draft.

Though the football season is over, our Gospel reading always brings me back to football because the lead verse is one that can be seen on signs in the end zone at many a game. (Although not as frequently as in the past, it seems to me). And I’ve always wondered why at football games and not basketball games or hockey games? And if anyone can answer that for me, I would appreciate it. Of course, the sign is, John 3:16, and it refers to what has often been called the most popular verse in Scripture. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Dear Friends,
I am continuing these extended reflections on the Sunday’s readings.

For the past two Sundays, the Scripture readings have focused on sin, repentance and change of heart. On the 1st Sunday of Lent we were challenged to come to grips with our personal sins, to understand life as a battle between the power of God in our lives and the power of the Evil One, marked by sin, doubts about God’s love and care for us and His presence in our lives. Following Jesus’ example in the desert, we were called to take on this war against that power in our lives, knowing that God is there to walk with us.

Dear Friends,
We continue on our Lenten journey. Today, our 1st Reading presents us with another covenant. Last week, it was the covenant with Noah, and the entire human race, not to destroy the world by flood. Today’s covenant relationship is the one God established with Abraham and in a very 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. Back to Abraham – God has put Abraham to the test and Abraham has come through with flying colors. For this, 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,
Many families, I am sure, are away for the shortened winter break, to find some renewal and refreshment in their time together, without the usual craziness that marks their lives these days. On this 1st Sunday of Lent, the Church also celebrates a time of renewal, at least as it regards our spiritual life. It is a time to renew our commitment to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, if it’s gone a little cold through all the distractions of everyday living. Because it is a special time of renewal, I thought I would approach my column a little differently. Rather than writing on some topic of interest (at least what I think might be of interest) or something that’s happening in the parish, I want to spend a little more time on the Sunday scriptures, especially the Gospels, as each week we take this Lenten journey together. You know that I do the last page of the bulletin, the brief explanation of the weekly scripture and the reflections for the week. For the next several weeks, I just want to expand that a little.

Dear Friends,
Wednesday of this week is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of Lent. As you have heard before, the word Lent derives from a German root which meant – spring – as in the season, but originally meant – long – referring to the time of year during which the days grew longer.

Lent should be a truly special time of the year for Christians, much the same as Ramadan is for the Muslims. It is a time to take stock of our lives, at the same time performing acts of sacrifice and penance to change those aspects of our lives that turn us away from God. It is a time to allow God to grow Himself more deeply in our hearts and therefore in the ways we live our lives. Couldn’t we all benefit from that?

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