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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,
Below is a repeat of an article I wrote a few years ago and have re-printed every year for the last several years because the importance of Holy Week hasn’t changed; neither have my thoughts on the subject. With schools being closed this week, the danger is that many will forget that for us, who call ourselves Christians, this is, in fact, the holiest week of the year. May we, who are around, see the significance of these days and observe them accordingly. And I hope that wherever they are, our brothers and sisters in faith will do the same.

Dear Friends,
On this 5thSunday 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 (1stScrutiny– the Samaritan woman at the well) with which we will never thirst again; the light of the world (2ndScrutiny – 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 3rdScrutiny today, may we all find new hope on our journey to Life.

Dear Friends,
Last week, I introduced anyone who read my column to 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 (Click Here). As part of that introduction, I mentioned the scrutinies, those special rites, celebrated on the 3rd, 4thand 5thSundays 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, offer 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.

Dear Friends,
Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. I will get to a reflection on the readings in a moment. I first want to say a word about the Scrutinies we will be celebrating at the 11:00 AM Mass today. The Scrutinies are a part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the RCIA. This is the process by which adults and children of catechetical age are brought into the Church. I say a process because it involves both instruction and formation.

Dear Friends,
By the end of this week, I will finally be getting away for some skiing in Vermont. I’ve never really done any “spring skiing” (and spring officially begins this Wednesday) before, so this will be a new experience. Some of the friends I ski with thought it would be nice to get away from those 2 to 10 degree temperatures of February. So we’ll see.

Dear Friends,
I want to return to a practice I have used on occasion in the past, namely, a short word on the movement of the Sunday Scriptures. Because there are seven days between our worship, we sometimes miss the movement of where the Scriptures is taking us, but it might be helpful to see this, especially in the Lenten season, so it can refocus our spiritual attention to what we’re doing.

Dear Friends,
Wednesday of this week is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of Lent. As you have heard before, the word Lent derives from a German root which meant – spring – as in the season, but originally meant – long – referring to the time of year during which the days grew longer. While spring is still a couple of weeks away, it will certainly feel more like it when the clocks change next weekend and we get that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day.

Dear Friends,
On Holy Thursday evening, 2002, with the abuse crisis swirling around us with the news from Boston, I preached a homily which addressed itself to the priesthood in the context of the scandal. After having acknowledged the humanness of all priests, and, therefore, their unworthiness, I went on. “Truly every priest is a sinner. But the sins of which we speak tonight go far beyond what should be tolerated in the ministers of the Church. We must not delude ourselves that the priesthood has never been tarnished before. In the past, it was tarnished when it was bought and sold, like a commodity, for the benefit of family and friends. It was tarnished when it was used to gain political advantage for clans and families and nations. It was tarnished by men who wantonly and publicly lived lifestyles opposed to the charism of celibacy. It was even tarnished by men who used its prestige to lord it over their brothers and sisters. But it has been no more tarnished than today – by those who have committed signs against the church’s own children, your children, Jesus’ little ones…

Dear Friends,
This weekend is Pledge Weekend for us here at Mount Carmel. Throughout the Archdiocese – Pledge Weekend for the Annual Appeal, now called Sharing God’s Blessings was last weekend – Super Bowl Sunday. We didn’t do it last weekend, not because of the Super Bowl, but because we also had a Confirmation Retreat going on and it’s hard for me to be in two places at the same time, or even to run back and forth from here to Kearny.

Dear Friends,
From the Past – Last weekend’s Men’s Cornerstone was a very special moment for the seventy or so (not all first time retreatants) men who attended. There was a great spirit, a lot of fellowship and many deeply moving spiritual moments and ended with a wonderful celebration of the Eucharist – the Church’s thanksgiving for God’s gifts and presence in our lives. And my schedule worked out in such a way that I was able to be present for more of the 26 hours than usual. It was a great experience. If any men of the parish know someone who attended, ask them about it and put it down on your calendar for next year. It’s always that last weekend in January, the one between the AFC/NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl. To the retreatants – don’t forget the reunion Monday night (2/4) at the K of C at 7:30 PM.

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