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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

This weekend is the middle of three weekends for the celebrations for one of the happiest moments in the life of a parish, the reception of the Eucharist for the first time for our children, 160 in all. After eight months of preparation, they will come to the altar to receive Jesus' greatest gift to His Church, HIMSELF, IN HIS REAL PRESENCE, for the life of the believer. And in less than a month, I will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to 162 of our 9th graders in the Sacrament of Confirmation. And all of these celebrations have returned to normal.

It is a good time to remember that we are a sacramental church, that we believe that Christ acts through designated celebrational moments, during which He has promised to be present in a powerful way to deepen the life of the believer's union with Himself. These celebrational moments, of which there are seven, form the backbone, as it were, of the Church's spiritual life and as a Catholic walks through life, they mark his/her continued re-creation in the image of Jesus, the 2nd Adam. This is why we believe these moments are so important, because they do effectuate that change into that new man, or woman, who now becomes the living Christ in the world. And this is why the pandemic, with its social distancing and "virtual everything" has proven to be such a danger to the sacramental life of the Church.

As we come to these moments which are the highlight of the parish's life in April, May and June, I like to remind everyone of their significance for us, especially after two years of truncated celebrations. Of course we can pray anywhere, anytime. Of course we can read Scripture anywhere, anytime. But the special gift of Christ to His Church are those graced moments when He has told us He would be present and active in the community. These sacramental moments nourish the believer on his/her journey. This is especially true of the Eucharist for it is in being fed by the Lord with His own Body and Blood that we find the nourishment to stay close to Him and to be His presence in the world, for the life of the world.

Of course, this is not without its challenge. The challenge is in what follows. Being formed in a faith-filled environment is not a one-shot deal. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. In a world in which we have little trust in people and institutions, (e.g. government, the media, the church, etc.), the kind of trust the Lord offers us can only be built slowly, in an environment into which we invite the Lord, day after day, after day. And that environment has to be multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, the home (through prayer and Scripture), the classroom (through instruction and formation in some form of Religious Education model) and worship (weekly attendance at Mass). It's only when all three are happening that there is real hope of finding in Jesus that trustworthy companion and friend that He is. So, the challenge to the families of our first communicants is to make all three things happen. I hope and pray our parents are ready, willing and able to accept this challenge. That challenge is even more pressing in the context of the pandemic we have all just lived through.

As Catholics, we need to rediscover the power of the Sacraments in our lives, to participate in them more faithfully and more fruitfully and give example to these children of ours who come to them for the first time, that we really believe in how special they are.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron

PS. May I ask a favor, for those who can do so. You know I have spoken or written that I have served on the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, for almost thirty years now. These last years have been a financial challenge for CCAN, mostly caused by the pandemic. As the Agency struggles to get back on its feet, the Board members have been asked to help, even the clergy, by "selling" 50/50 raffle tickets, as part of the annual Gala. I have 15 tickets to sell, actually only 13, I've already sold two. If anyone is interested, please email me. The tickets cost $50. I think the prize should be somewhere around $10,000. Thank you.

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