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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Hope, after this weekend, I will get back on track for not writing another column for the rest of the summer. And, hopefully, this column will be shorter than most. But I wanted to write for the last time about three activities, events that are either beginning of winding down.

The first is the planned re-opening of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. For almost 18 years Mount Carmel has been the only place in Bergen County where a person could go and pray, anytime, night or day, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. And I am convinced that we have stayed together as a community of faith and grown together, because of this extraordinary gift of faith. As we plan to re-open, we need to find people of prayer who are willing to spend time covering the hours needed to keep the Chapel open around the clock. Not only will you find it a time to deepen your personal relationship with the Lord, it will be a gift and grace you offer to others because the Chapel can only be open if someone is there. By your presence you make it possible for others to come, anytime they feel the desire or the need to be in touch with the Lord in His sacramental presence. What a grace you offer to others. Please check out the remaining hours (many have already responded), listed on the following page of this bulletin, and offer yourself for this deeply spiritual work.

Dear Friends,

I know I wrote that I would not write during the summer but sometimes things happen that should be shared. Both are in the nature of resumes. I doubt that this is really a word, but nothing captures in a single word experiences of this last week.

-Last Monday, for the first time since March 18, 2020, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament took place in the daily Mass chapel. Since June 2, 2002 anyone could come to Mount Carmel, any time of the day or night, to pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, enthroned on the altar of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, off the front lobby of the church. Mount Carmel was open for prayer 2417, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. For almost 18 years, Mount Carmel offered this place of solitude, quiet and peace. As I am an early riser, it was always edifying to see the number of people in that chapel in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes, at all hours of the day and night, besides the scheduled adorer, the little chapel would be full, standing room only, with people who came to be with their Eucharistic Lord.

Dear Friends,

It's always been my practice, well-sometimes anyway, to cease and desist writing a column for the summer months, and spare you the ramblings of an idle mind. I hope to practice that strategy again this year. And so this will be, hopefully, my last column until September.

We have been through an extraordinary time these last sixteen months. The world has been through an extraordinary time these last sixteen months. I would bet that each of us has lost someone we personally knew, or, at least, the family of someone who succumbed to the corona virus. Our hearts still go out to all those who mourn. Besides the loss, they were deprived of the usual rituals of mourning and comfort, the gathering of friends to show respect and offer support, the spiritual rituals that remind us of the gift of eternal life.

Dear Friends,

Varia - a collection of unrelated items, events, or, in this case, happenings in and around the parish.

-On Friday evening, we celebrated the last of our six Confirmation ceremonies for the 171 teenagers in our Confirmation program. Their names appear on the front cover of the bulletin this week. I want to congratulate them on this special moment in their journey of faith and to thank them for their perseverance in staying with the program. This class is unique. They have had to deal with virtual classes, after a long day of virtual learning, a much reduced retreat experience, conducted in a shorter amount of time, right here in the Parish Center and a one-size-fits-all service project, in which they were not able to choose and develop their own service projects but participated in the monthly food drive for the Fr. English Center. They "rolled with the punches," "stepped up to the plate" and did everything that was expected of them. And I want to thank them for sticking with it, to come to the Sacrament as prepared as we could help them to be. At the least, we were able to celebrate the Sacrament for all the candidates, before the end of the school year.

Dear Friends,

The saga continues-meaning, of course, the pandemic and how it affects our lives. Nothing drastic has changed from last weekend but I do want to recap some of the protocols I mentioned in the video, which is still available on the website.

If you are fully vaccinated, you may come to Mass and worship without a mask, preferably in the main body of the church. Even if you are fully vaccinated, but want to continue to wear a mask, you may also sit in the main body of the church. Just to note-social distancing is no longer observed in the main body of the church.

If you are not fully vaccinated, or are not yet comfortable without social distancing, the two transepts, at St. Jude and at the Blessed Mother, are still roped, eliminating every other pew from being used. You are invited to use these pews.

Ministers of hospitality will be at the doors to remind you of these protocols.

Dear Friends,

I want to express my thanks to all those who offered congratulations, either verbally, by email or in cards, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Thank you for your kindness. I have to confess that I'm not a great one for birthdays and anniversaries. To me, 50 was one more than 49 and one less than 51. A Sister of Charity who once served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese said to me, "you are all prose and no poetry." I went to ordinations last Saturday, to be in the exact same place, on the exact same day as fifty years before, thinking I would be nostalgic and relive those moments, but, in fact, I spent more time thinking about those to be ordained that day, and what they would encounter in the years of their priesthood.

Dear Friends,

This past Tuesday I was out with a close friend, his wife, children and grandchildren, celebrating his 60th birthday and we were discussing, of course, the latest developments in the Covid saga. He is a manager of a large supermarket (not in the area) and they were scheduled to have an upper management discussion on the following Thursday (5/27) about where they go from here with the lifting of restrictions. Like them, the parish needs to have that same discussion. We have received general guidelines from the Archdiocese, developed along the lines of the Governor's latest protocols, but much has been left to the discretion of the pastor of each parish.

To be honest, on the one hand it's very simple; mask and social distancing requirements for those who have been vaccinated have been lifted. Ropes can come down, registration is no longer required, a person can choose to sit wherever they wish. On the other hand there are complications. We have been directed not to check for proof of vaccination. Should masked people sit in special sections of the church? Does wearing a mask imply no vaccination or can it simply mean that a vaccinated person who wants to come to mass is still not feeling comfortable without a mask? I'm sure you might think of others as well. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.

Dear Friends,

Thoughts that run through an idle mind:

-Undoubtedly you have had much discussion this past week about the latest in Covid guidelines from the CDC. And I am equally sure those conversations have been as divergent as the opinions of those engaged in them. For our State, particularly, they probably focus on the Governor who, to some, is holding us back from another step toward normalcy, as he has done throughout this pandemic. To others, he is perfectly right in his caution, despite what science seems to be saying (at least, according to the CDC) and his repeated calls to the coordination of the tristate area. While I am sure everyone has their opinion on his decisions, I think we all might agree on the fact that whenever it comes, a maskless world, with no social distancing, will not be accepted by everyone, including those who have already been vaccinated. I think we need to get used to that, and to respect our neighbors, on both sides of the reality. No one is making their decision out of meanness or harmfulness. Let's always try to operate out of that vision.

Dear Friends,

On the cover of this bulletin you will find our annual presentation of the names of our First Communicants for this year. The ninth and last celebration is being held this weekend for our 174 second and third graders (some delayed from last year) who have come to the Table of the Lord for the first time. What a great joy it is, or should be, for a parish to celebrate the First Communion of so many children and to be able to do it this year, on time, with increased numbers of family present (even if only by a little), and with added possibility of live-streaming for those who could not attend.

Dear Friends,

On things COVID
- There never seems to be an end to the need to relate COVID reminders. The usual ones are always still with us: masks, social distancing and the directionality of the floor traffic. Here's one I don't often remember to share. When you come to receive communion in the hand, there is sometimes a tendency to cup the palm of the hand into which the priest or minister will place the host. Please fight this tendency. Actually, the flatter the palm the better. When the palm is flat, it is easy for the priest or minister to place the host there, without touching your hand. The more you cup your hand, the more difficult it is to accomplish this. When approaching the priest or minister, please hold your hand with the palm as flat as possible. Thank you.

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