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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Before we continue with our Lenten journey, two unrelated (at least to today's liturgy) happenings. As I am sure you have heard/read, the limitation on religious services (Mass attendance) has been raised from 35%, with a max of 150 to 50% of capacity, without any max. Since the seating capacity of the church is somewhere around 860, you, might be thinking we could now have 430 people at each mass. But it doesn't work that way. It's 50% of capacity while still observing social distancing, which requires us to rope off every other pew. This then reduces available seating to around 220. As of this writing, we are still working out more exact numbers but we will still stick to the registration method for attendance. I remind everyone again the reason for this is contact tracing. In the event of someone coming who later tests positive, we will be able to directly notify those who were in attendance at that mass of that fact, as we did when Msgr. Sheeran tested positive. I am aware that some parishes are not following these protocols, but here at OLMC we think it's the best way to protect your safety. Could it be time to begin giving some thought to the possibility of returning to in-person worship and the opportunity to be strengthened by receiving the BODY OF CHRIST AS FOOD FOR THIS LONG JOURNEY WE ARE STILL ON?

Dear Friends,

Last weekend, Ridgewood schools celebrated February Recess, a brief break in the not-so-routine experience of hybrid education. I doubt that many had the chance to get away, considering the protocols surrounding travel. So it was not much of a chance for renewal, in body or mind. But, on this 1st Sunday of Lent, the Church celebrates a time of renewal, at least as it regards our spiritual life. It is a time to renew our commitment to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, if it's gone a little cold through all the struggles of living in the Covid world. On these next few Sundays, I want to spend a little more time on the Sunday scriptures, especially the Gospels, as each week we take this Lenten journey together. You know that I do the last page of the bulletin, the brief explanation of the weekly scripture and the reflections for the week. For the next several weeks, I just want to expand that a little. That exegesis of the readings, and the reflection questions that follow, will appear on the livestream and the worship aid, offering the possibility for those who join for that Mass that they might spend a few extra moments trying to see what God, through the Sacred Word, is speaking to us in these days.

Dear Friends,

As I mentioned in last week's column, I would repeat the entire column about Ash Wednesday in the event some did not get a chance to read it. I did, however delete the attempts at humor found in the first paragraph, although I was tempted to say something about the Sunday storm which drastically reduced the already-reduced in person congregants. Maybe sunshine and warmth will return one day soon.

Dear Friends,

What can be said about a heavy-duty snowstorm in Covid? Probably nothing repeatable in public. The children had a chance for a real "snow day," parents who normally work from home, still worked from home, everyone raided the shelves of the supermarkets (like last March and April) and roads were empty (like last March and April). But everyone did have a chance to play in the snow (if you like that idea) which you could not do in March and April. So we weathered our biggest snowstorm in five years or maybe, if the Governor is correct, since 1996, and I do remember being stuck in Newark those days. As a skier, I love snow but as I always say to anyone who raises the subject - tons of snow but not south of Poughkeepsie.

Dear Friends,

I hope everyone survived the "snowstorm" of this past week. Many have asked me when I would be taking my usual ski trip to Vermont. As the old saying goes, "it's not in the cards" this year. That's not only because of the uncertainty around the restrictions, but also because one of our number is battling a serious medical diagnosis and it just doesn't seem right to go under those circumstances.

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.

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