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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Once again, Mount Carmel is a little off schedule, as we were last year. Last weekend was to have been Announcement Weekend for the 2021 Annual Appeal, for the support of the work of the Archdiocese of Newark. I postponed it because of the weekend that we were shut-down (except for 2 masses) due to Covid among our non- clergy staff. For so many years, the campaign always started on Super Bowl Sunday. But as of last year, the pastors now have more leeway in when to begin the campaign. So today is Announcement Sunday which formally had been called Pledge Sunday.

Dear Friends:

When I was in the seminary, in Darlington in those days, many decades ago, the time from the day we returned after Christmas break to Easter was generally called "Darlington February," even though it encompassed a time greater than the calendar month of February. The term was used to denote a kind of bleak time; the weather was cold and snowy, there were no breaks (no semester break, no spring break-in fact, in those early years you couldn't go off the seminary grounds), nothing but class and more class and more class. And waiting for Easter, and for the spring and for release.

Dear Friends:

Because we had only two in-person masses last weekend, I repeat a good portion of last week's column. One thing I would add, I also want to express the thanks of all the priests for all of the "goodies" that were sent to the rectory, the baked goods, assorted candies and chocolates, fruit and, of course, the libations, as well as all the Christmas cards which I like to keep as I see the progression of your children's development. A heartfelt thank you to all who thought of us in this holiday season.

Dear Friends:

It has been my custom in years past to begin the New Year with a column dedicated to giving thanks to everyone who made our Christmas celebrations possible. This year, that list would have to be even longer. So, I am not going to name individuals. Instead, I simply want to thank everyone, the entire parish, for keeping faith alive in these last ten months. Everyone had a hand in that. I think of all those who participated in the live-streamed masses during the "lock down" months of the pandemic, by taking the time to gather in living rooms and sun porches, or wherever, to participate, as best you could, in worship and prayer. You kept faith alive. I can't help but remember, with a smile on my face (even behind a mask), those families of 1st communicants who welcomed wandering staff members onto their lawns so we could give your child those balloons.

Dear Friends:

I wrote this column for the bulletin last year, for Holy Family Sunday, December 29, 2019. Needless to say, neither I nor any single person in the whole world knew what kind of year 2020 would be. Today, after the experience of these last ten months, these words don't come near to expressing all that family life has meant. Literally, it has sustained us beyond anything we could have imagined. And I hope that is true of our family life as a parish. We have tried, over these last months, especially around those special celebrations which mark milestones in our religious journey, baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, marriages and even funerals, as well as our Christmas preparations and celebrations to keep that spirit alive. I hope and pray we have accomplished this, to some degree. Let's pray, as this 2020 year comes to an end, for the continued strength of our family life, personal, parish, community and nation, through this pandemic and beyond. Below is the column.

Dear Friends:

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. When Christmas falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, this up-coming week makes Advent seem so much longer. I think this year that's helpful considering all the logistical precautions we have to take because of the pandemic. As I write this on Tuesday morning (12/15-10 days before Christmas), because of early bulletin deadline, and with registration for the Christmas masses not even open for 2 hours, three of the Christmas Eve masses are already filled. It tells me it's going to be a very hectic time between now and Christmas Day.

Dear Friends:

The bulletin company has given us another early deadline, so l write this on Tuesday, December 8th, the Solemnity of the lmmaculate Conception.

Each day, every priest in the world prays the official prayer of the Church. It is called the Liturgy of the Hours. In the past it has been referred to simply as the Breviary (or Brev.) or the Divine 0ffice (or Office). One of the intentions in praying it was to sanctify the parts of the day by requiring it to be prayed at certain times of the day. Its composition is a combination of the psalms, readings from Scripture and spiritual writers, intercessions and prayers.

Dear Friends:

Normally I would have been on retreat last week with the Hermits of Bethlehem, a beautiful, secluded spot in the woods of Morris County. Just another change to life, thanks to Covid 19. But even without a physically "apart" retreat, Advent, itself, can be a kind of retreat for me and for you as well. It is the time of readying our hearts to once again welcome God's greatest gift to us - His Son, Jesus the Christ, and in His Son, God's very self. Last Sunday's Responsorial Psalm started us off, "Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved." (Psalm 80). The invitation was there - shine forth, look down, give us new life, rouse your power and come to us. This is God's invitation to all of us in this season that, turning toward Him, we might find new hope.

Dear Friends:

This is the first weekend of Advent, the beginning of the new Liturgical Year in the life of the Church. I'm sure you remember that the Sunday readings for the Liturgical Year are celebrated in a three-year cycle, simply referred to as Years A, B and C. Having completed a journey through the Gospel of Matthew (Year A in the Lectionary), we now begin a similar journey through the Gospel of Mark (identified as Year B). This means that except for certain seasons, and certain feasts, our Sunday readings are generally taken up with a continuous reading of Mark's Gospel. As I have in the past, I want to share a few thoughts with you on this Gospel.

Dear Friends:

Thursday of this week is Thanksgiving Day, which each of us, no doubt, will celebrate in a far different way than ever before. In my column it would have been my custom to encourage everyone to attend our special Eucharistic celebration with the blessing and distribution of bread to take to your Thanksgiving tables and "break" with all those gathered. We thought it best not to do that this year. While most articles I have read say the virus is not carried on food, I m not sure many families would be comfortable with this ritual. A Blessing for your Thanksgiving Table appears in this bulletin which could be offered by the oldest, or even better, the youngest at the table. And I certainly wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

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