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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Now that the “historic” blizzard of 2015 is behind us, maybe the wicked weather we’ve been experiencing, cold, ice, snow, will also be behind us.  But not if you believe the forecasters’ predictions for early this coming week.  And once the Super Bowl is over, we can face the February doldrums.  When I was in the seminary which was located in the Darlington section of Mahwah in those days, we used to call this time “Darlington February,” meaning nothing to look forward to.  I’m sure the current seminarians at Seton Hall don’t quite look at it in the same way.

But there are two major events to look forward to in the month of February.  Maybe not quite as exciting as a cruise or a ski trip, but more important for our long-term health, spiritual health, that is.  The first is the season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 18th.  I know that’s more than two weeks away but I wanted to get your minds geared up for this important time in the life of the Catholic faithful.  In his Lenten message to the Catholic world, Pope Francis reminds us “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer.  Above all, it is a time of grace.”  The pope reminds us that each of us has a place in God’s heart.  “He knows us by name, He cares for us and He seeks us out whenever we turn away from Him.  He is interested in each of us.”  Believing in this with all our hearts, we need an interior renewal that we might love Him (and one another) as He has first loved us. 

 How do we accomplish this renewal?  The Holy Father invites us to renewal in three ways: (1) praying in communion with the Church, (2) acts of charity, (3) suffering with those who suffer.  How do I accomplish this renewal, using these tools the Holy Father has suggested?  Increased prayer in my life is always a possibility and a path because most of us could always devote more time and attention to prayer.  At the top of the “prayer” list is, of course, the central prayer of the Church, the celebration of the Eucharist.  Attendance at daily Mass is an age-old Lenten practice that centers our hearts and life in the very life of God and can renew our spirits in the things of God.  If the work schedule presents a problem, relative to our daily Mass schedule, joining the community for the official Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (at 5:30 AM in the daily Mass Chapel) is an alternative.  Or even finding a more convenient hour for Mass, offered by surrounding parishes or a church near your workplace.  That you attend daily Mass is more important than where you attend.  If none of these are possible, other prayer forms, the rosary, and daily reading of Scripture are also good ways of praying in communion with the Church.  Using the Little Black Book is also a good tool to deepen our prayer life during Lent.

 Acts of charity are also traditional ways of experiencing Lenten renewal.  When we focus our attention on others, and away from ourselves, we pattern our lives after the life of the Lord, who has come to serve and not to be served.  Look around for those in your life to whom you can extend a helping hand and offer it.  Included in this could be the monetary savings accrued from giving up something, fasting from something, and donating those savings to a worthy charitable cause.  Even the smallest acts of charity, monetary or otherwise, can accumulate to lead us to a true conversion of heart. 

 Suffering with those who suffer is probably the hardest of the three ways the Holy Father offers for renewal.  It requires a constant widening of our hearts, to see persons, not with the eyes of judgment, but with the eyes of compassion and empathy.  To look at individuals and peoples, not through the eyes of politics, or religion, or ethnicity or economics but through God’s eyes, as sons and daughters, thus our brothers and sisters, and see their pain and be moved by it.  This also leads to a conversion of heart which is the whole point and goal of Lent. 

 In the same Lenten message, Pope Francis reminds us of Jesus’ call to wash the feet of others.  But before we can do that, we must first allow Him to wash our feet, as we commemorate on Holy Thursday.  “Lent is a favorable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like Him.  This happens whenever we hear the word of God.”  One way of letting Christ serve you is to set aside Saturday, February 21st, the day of our Parish Lenten Mission.  Let Christ serve you by opening your heart in a greater way to His word.  Let Him serve you by engaging you, along with others, in new ways in which you might liven your faith and deepen His presence in your life.  For more information check the bulletin and the link provided. 

 The Holy Father concludes his message with a hope for the whole Church that “this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community.”  It’s not too early to start planning for how you can accomplish that.

 God Bless,  Fr. Ron

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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sgbcross 
Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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