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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

First, I want to thank all the students from the Academy of Our Lady who participated in last weekend’s liturgies. The readers, the greeters, the gift bearers and the speakers all did a wonderful job and are a testament to the success of the Academy as a CATHOLIC and a SCHOOL. It is a Catholic School worth supporting and worth considering for your children. Although Catholic Schools Week may officially be over there’s always opportunity to visit the school to see if it’s right for your children.

Dear Friends,

As you can see from the front cover of today’s bulletin, Catholic Schools Week begins today. This is the week throughout the nation when we celebrate the history of, and continuing presence of the Catholic school as part of the American Catholic parish experience. There are a host of activities happening at our school, the Academy of Our Lady, which we support along with St. Catharine’s. At the conclusion of all the masses this weekend, both here and at St. Catharine’s, a student from the Academy, from his/her particular parish, will speak of their experience at the Academy. I know you will be impressed.

Dear Friends,

Congratulations to Fr. Frank, Peter Denio, Kristin Halvey and their team for the successful inauguration of Discovering Christ in our parish. There was a sell-out crowd last Thursday for the first session and, I think, it was an enthusiastic crowd, eager to hear and share the Word of God. From the responses, it seems the ChristLife program, of which Discovering Christ is the first part, will be a strong opportunity to experience the presence of Christ in our lives. Why do I say strong and not something else, like great. Basically, because the parish is about “strengthening” faith. Whether through the sacraments, liturgy (mass), or service, (the Nurturing Place, food drives), or community building, (MOMs, Cornerstone), or formation, (CCD, Adult Faith Formation), the parish is the place where the Catholic Christian has the opportunity to meet Christ, to encounter Him and to come to a deeper awareness of His presence in our lives. And so I pray that Discovering Christ will have a strong impact on the life of this community.

Dear Friends,

When I was in the Seminary back in the 60’s (1960’s that is) we used to call this time of year a Darlington February. The formal name was Immaculate Conception Seminary but more often than not we used the shorter form, Darlington, the name for that section of Mahwah, to refer to the place we lived and were schooled. The February referred to that time of year from our return from Christmas break to the Easter break and usually in the negative, because we were never allowed off the grounds. Thus, a Darlington February was a kind of bleak time in our lives.

As we are almost at February I can’t help but think back to those days even though our days at OLMC are nothing like that. As I write this, Discovering Christ, fully booked, begins tomorrow evening. In another two weeks, our first Men’s Cornerstone since 2020 will be held and a week after that only the third Journey Retreat (Confirmation retreat) at the retreat center in Kearney since March of 2020. The faith community here at Mount Carmel is growing and coming back to life after the pause created by the pandemic.

Dear Friends,

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have mentioned several times that when the Advent Season is as long as it can be, then the Christmas season is as short as it can be. We have seen that this year, when there were no Sundays between Christmas and January 1 and between January 1 and the celebration of the Epiphany which is this weekend. So, the liturgical Christmas season ends tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 9th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

I had mentioned last week that a number of people spoke to me about the Christmas message I sent by phone to all our parish households. If I may, I want to repeat some of it now. I said that I was...

Dear Friends,

I have often wished you all a happy new year; in September, when we begin the new program/school year, or on the first Sunday of Advent, when we begin the new Church year. But today, I can actually wish all a—Happy New Year and actually mean the beginning of a new calendar year. So Happy New Year.

During the Advent season I would often mention that this year was the longest Advent it could be, a full week for the 4th Sunday of Advent. (Next year, Advent will be the shortest; the 4th Sunday of Advent will also be Christmas Eve.) Because Advent is the longest, the Christmas season will be the shortest. Usually there is a Sunday between Christmas and January 1 which is Holy Family Sunday. The first Sunday after January 1 is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany and that is followed by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, because Christmas and January 1 are Sundays, there is no Sunday between them. The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Friday, December 30th and the Epiphany is celebrated Sunday, January 8th and the Baptism of the Lord on Monday January 9th. That Feast marks the official end of the liturgical season we call the Christmas Season.

Dear Friends,

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The premier hymn of the Advent season. We are most familiar with the refrain, which continues, “Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel, To Thee Shall Come Emmanuel.” Emmanuel - God With Us. As we celebrate Christmas today, we affirm - God Is With Us.

One of the deeply reflective moments in the preparation to this day has been the daily Alleluia Verse, the short line that is said (sung on Sundays, preceded and followed by ALLELUIA) before the Gospel reading. In these verses, the Church sums up the yearnings of our hearts as we prepare to welcome the most generous gift that can ever be given - the gift of God, Himself, in the form of the Child Jesus. These verses form some of the verses of that popular hymn and they began on the 17th and continued every day until the 23rd. They are called the O Antiphons, because they were originally (and still) sung as part of Vespers, the Evening Prayer of the Church. The verse appears in italic, the plain print is my commentary.

Dear Friends,

A big THANK YOU to the choirs of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Adult Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Contemporary Band, the Bell Choir, the Spanish Choir and the Cantors for the beautiful gift of Advent and Christmas music they gave us on the evening of Dec. 9th. In a wonderful mixing of style and meaning they presented the Christmas Story as an inspiration and as entertainment. What an incredible array of talent was on display that evening and what an extraordinary gift of that talent to the parish community. Not to take away from any other group, for me, it was the Children’s Choir who made my night. But thank you to all, and to the leaders and directors for all you do for the Music Ministry here at OLMC, not just on that night but for adding to the praise and worship we give to the Lord in our weekly liturgies every week. We are grateful.

Dear Friends,

Does anyone remember Dolores Hart? I asked this question in my homily last Sunday. To my surprise, a few hands went up. Dolores Hart was an American actress whose first movie role was opposite Elvis Presley in the 1957 movie, Loving You. She made ten films in five years, including the cult-like Where the Boys Are. While filming Francis of Assisi in Italy in 1960, she joined the film crew in an audience with Pope St. John XXIII. She introduced herself as “Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare” (St. Clare), to which the Pope responded, “No, you are Clare.”

Dear Friends,

Over the last three months or so you have been hearing about the House Gatherings we’ve celebrated around the parish. As I have mentioned at the gatherings, the idea was that we would have these gatherings in the fall of 2020, right after the three month lockdown. The purpose was simply to get people together, in small numbers, to reintroduce themselves to one another. Then DELTA hit and we needed to cancel. We tried it again in the fall of 2021 but OMICRON hit and we had to cancel again. We decided to do them in the fall of 2022 even though most of us had been “out and about” for many months. I think they were a success. People came who didn’t know each other and got to meet “new” (even if only to them) members of the congregation. I want to share with the parish the thoughts I shared at the “gatherings” I was able to attend.

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