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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

-Annual Appeal Update

As of today, the total pledged is $157,775, from 283 donors. Thank you-to each and every one of these 283 households for helping us reach our stretch goal. But we are a long way from our goal of 500 donors, or even the 420 who donated last year. Last week, I posed the question. "Why should I be a donor?" And I answered it: First, because it is a good cause." To see a fuller explanation of that statement, please check out my column in last week's online bulletin. Today I give the second reason. Because it helps the parish. As I've said in the past, parish support (collections) are down. This is probably because we have not yet returned to pre-pandemic attendance at Sunday Mass. Though the numbers are increasing, we are still down about 800 people in attendance which, of course, effects the income of the parish. But we still need to carry on the ministries of the parish. A big help to offset that loss was the rebate the parish receives when we go over the AA stretch goal. But this year, they've tightened the strings a little on that rebate. The rebate the parish receives will only be based on pledges MADE NO LATER THAN JUNE 30, 2022 and fulfilled by December 31, 2022. So, if you make a pledge on June 25, and pay it off on Christmas Day, December 25, the parish will receive a rebate on that gift. But if you make the pledge on July 25, and pay it off that same day or a month later, the parish will not receive any rebate on that gift. So, I am asking everyone to make their pledge now, or at least by June 30, even if you know you will not make a payment until later in the year. As I mentioned at the beginning, the rebate on this Appeal helps the parish compensate for lost revenue due to the drop in attendance still being seen because of the pandemic. I hope this makes some sense to you. If not, please send me an email or call and I would be happy to try to explain it a little better.

-On holier things
Last week, in my column, I introduced, or reminded everyone, about the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. If you missed it, and want to catch-up, you can find it on the website. As part of that introduction, I mentioned the scrutinies, those special rites, celebrated on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent, when those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil are invited to look deeply into their lives, to uncover and heal what is weak and strengthen what is upright. Each Sunday, this is accomplished through three different "signs" from the Gospel of John. Last week, it was the living water of the well of Jacob in Samaria. Today it is the "sign" of the man born blind. And the rite is celebrated at the 11:00AM Mass. But the rite, and its celebration, offers the whole community an opportunity to do what the catechumens are invited to do, to uncover and heal what is wounded through sin and to strengthen what is good.

Did you ever notice how "blind" all of us can be? Ask someone who has been in an unfamiliar place, a room, a building, etc. to describe the colors, the arrangement of furniture, and it's amazing how many details go unnoticed. Likewise, when someone is trying to get across some non- verbal message, how blind we can be to his or her attempts. Usually our blindness is caused by our fixation on something or someone else.

That's exactly what can happen in our spiritual life. Something or someone else can blind us to God's presence, action and call in our lives. We begin to see wrongly, or not at all and God fades out of sight. In the prayers this Sunday we pray, "Free these elect (and us) from the false values that surround and blind them (and us). Set them (and us) firmly in your truth, children of the light forever."

As we reflect in these weeks on our need to be healed, there is no better way than the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that special moment when, like the man born blind, we recover our sight. And an excellent moment to have the space, the time, the peace and the inspiration to do this is the Communal Celebration of the Sacrament (with individual confessions) on the Tuesday of Holy Week, April 12th, at 7:30PM. The quiet, the music, the Scripture all speak to our hearts, giving us the courage (and sometime we need courage) to admit our need for healing, seeking the gentle touch of Jesus, through the ministry of the priest. Start thinking about it now and maybe God will move you to come.

And speaking of reconciliation and mercy, we find it again in today's readings from Cycle C (the Gospel of Luke) for the rest of the masses of this 4th Sunday of Lent, with the exception of the 11:00 which I have already mentioned. This 4th Sunday is called Laetare Sunday, taken from the words of the opening antiphon, Rejoice Jerusalem. Taken together, the readings call us to celebration and reconciliation, or I might better put it, celebration because of reconciliation. Because God has reached out to us, lifted us up and reconciled us to himself, we have cause to celebrate. As I have mentioned, the first two Sundays of Lent always focus on the temptation of Christ in the desert (week 1) and the Transfiguration (week 2). After that, the third, fourth and fifth weeks of Lent diverge into different themes, according to the author of the Gospel. In this year of Cycle C, the Church gives us Luke and his emphasis on God's mercy. Last week, it was the gardener who looked for more time to restore the health of the fig tree. In today's 1st Reading, the Israelites have finally reached the Promised Land, they are to enjoy the fruits of the land which God is giving them and celebrate in its fulfillment. In the Psalm Response, the psalmist invites the reader to rejoice because this God not only hears the cry of the poor, but acts in their behalf. In the 2nd Reading, Paul proclaims a new creation, because we have been reconciled to God in Jesus, the Christ. But it is especially in the Gospel that we see God's mercy, a mercy he extends to both the wayward son and to the hard-hearted son, "we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and has been found." The cause of our rejoicing, then, is that God forgives us, heals us, raises us up and invites us back into the family. What could be better than to feel the warmth of that welcome and the peace of that relationship in a world which so often is filled with acrimony, anxiety and division?

This year, especially in this time of a greater freedom from Covid 19 (we hope and pray) make the end of Lent a time of rejoicing, as the loud celebration in the house of the Father is for you who have been reconciled to your God. In addition to the Parish Penance Service, confessions are heard on the Saturday (4/9) before Palm Sunday, from 1:00PM-2:00PM, and on the Wednesday evening of Holy Week (4/13), from 7:00PM-9:00PM. You will not regret finding your way back to the Father's house.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron


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