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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

-On the Material. The Annual Appeal.
This will be the last report on the Appeal until after Easter. As of today (3/30/22), $219,525 has been pledged from 310 donors. Once again, thank you to all who have pledged and brought us over our stretch goal, not only in pledges but in cash received. You have supported the work of the Church of Newark and of the Gospel and have helped the parish meet all the milestones we need to in order to be eligible for the rebate which, as I have said, helps us make up for some of the shortfall caused by the ongoing consequences of the pandemic. But, as I have also said, our goal is to increase the number of households supporting the Appeal and we still have a long way to go, even to reach last years' number. Please join in supporting both the Church of Newark and OLMC as well.

On the Spiritual as we get closer to Holy Week and Easter. On this 5th Sunday of Lent, once again the Church celebrates a scrutiny with those preparing for baptism. And there are lessons in this celebration for those preparing for full communion, as well as for all of us. For three weeks now, all have been invited to scrutinize, to examine our lives and to uncover and heal all that is weak, defective and sinful in our lives, and to strengthen all that is good. In all of these reflections, and in the blessings of the rites themselves, celebrated at the 11:00AM Mass, we are invited to receive new strength for our spiritual journey and to open our hearts more and more to the Christ Who is the living water (1st Scrutiny-the Samaritan woman at the well) with which we will never thirst again; the light of the world (2nd Scrutiny-the man born blind) with which we will never be blinded again by the world’s allure; and the resurrection and the life (today), the eternal glory to which we are called. As we celebrate this 3rd Scrutiny today, may we all find new hope on our journey to Life, especially as we have learned from our two year wandering in the desert of the pandemic that we cannot make this journey alone, without the hope that comes from faith in Jesus Christ, the Way and the Truth and the Life.

The Gospel which will be read at all the other masses is the story of the woman caught in sin. St. Augustine, in his commentary on this Gospel scene refers to it as the contrast between misery and mercy. The misery of the life she has chosen to live almost leads to her ugly death at the hands of this crowd that has gathered to condemn her. And the misery of the crowd is evident when they are challenged by Jesus to ask themselves if they, in fact, are without sin themselves. And they went away, "one by one," very much alone in the recognition of their own sinfulness. Then, mercy shines through, as Jesus brings peace to her troubled soul. "Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you."

In the old liturgical calendar, this Sunday would have been called Passion Sunday, or the 1st Sunday of Passiontide. In those days, all the statues and crucifixes would have been veiled in purple (taken from the last line of the Gospel always read on this Sunday, "And Jesus hid himself, and went out from the temple" John 8:59). That practice had been abrogated but has now been restored as an option.

One of the upsides of that practice was that it reminded the worshipper that Holy Week was right around the corner, that if Lent had been meaningless up to that point, it was now time to get serious, that there was still time left to make Lent happen, for the better. The starkness of the church building was meant to shock us into realizing the sacrifice of Jesus which we are about to remember in Holy Week. (By the way, we are trying to do that as well by removing all flowers and plants from the church, so please don't bring any new ones until after Easter). The environment was meant to be a visible reminder of the journey we were on with the Lord.

So, now is a good time to do the same in our lives. Has Lent been helpful? Has it led us into a deeper union with the Lord? Has it helped us open our hearts to his presence, His grace, His love? It's still not too late to make that happen. As I wrote last Sunday, one way (that would probably make up for all Lenten deficiencies) is to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confession. How long has it been? Pre-pandemic? Or even longer? Why deny yourself the incredible peace and closeness with Jesus that comes from this Sacrament? A peace that the woman in today's Gospel surely felt when she left Jesus. I guarantee it-you won't regret it. Please take note that for a number of reasons there will not be a Penance Service on Tuesday, 4/12 but opportunities are still available on Saturday, 4/19 and again on Wednesday, 4/13. Please check the full schedule in another place in this bulletin.

And speaking of Holy Week, next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. It is during Holy Week that we celebrate the most sacred days in our faith-life. I realize that it is also spring recess for local schools. I would encourage all those who will be away to find some ways to honor this most sacred week on the Christian calendar.

For those who are around, especially on Palm Sunday, I remind you of our special Palm Sunday Procession, which will be the first time we've held it since 2019. Parishioners will gather at Veterans' Field, at the band shell, at 11:30, for the blessing of palm and the procession through the streets of Ridgewood (on the sidewalk) to the church for the 12:30 Mass. As you can imagine, this will be a great opportunity to give witness to Jesus Christ, his place in our hearts and lives, and in our Catholic faith. And it will also give witness to the vibrancy of Mount Carmel as a community of Catholic believers, after the struggles of these last two years, whose faith strengthens them to face the realities of our world, whether they be the violence, the pandemic or the divisions in our Church, our nation and our world. I encourage great participation from the parish community, especially our parish families, parents and children who will be in town, as we begin the start of the holiest week on the Christian calendar.

A reminder once again Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration will end immediately after the 6:30PM Mass on Palm Sunday, 4110, and resume at 7:00AM on Easter Monday, 4/18. By church regulation, there should be no adoration from Holy Thursday until Easter. The extra days allow our maintenance staff to take care of the floors.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron

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