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Wednesday of this week is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of Lent.  As you may have heard before, the word Lent derives from a Germanic root which meant spring (which, no doubt we are all eagerly awaiting), as in the season, but originally, long, referring to the time of year during which the days grew longer.

Lent should be a truly special time of the year for Christians, much the same as Ramadan is for the Muslims.  It is a time to take stock of our lives, at the same time performing acts of sacrifice and penance to change those aspects of our lives that turn us away from God.  It is a time to allow God to grow Himself more deeply in our hearts and therefore in the ways we live our lives.  Couldn’t we all benefit from that? 

 I encourage everyone, man, woman & child to take this Lent more seriously than at any other time.  Do something that’s a real sacrifice.  Challenge yourself in ways that you never thought possible.  Sacrifice something you really like, like sleep, getting up a bit earlier to go to daily Mass (6:30, 8:30 or 12:00).  Or if you need something earlier than that, public Morning Prayer in the Daily Mass Chapel at 5:30 AM.  Or say a Rosary everyday or read a chapter from one of the four Gospels each day.  Or fast every day of Lent (Monday thru Saturday, like in the “old days,”) or, if that’s too much, Wednesdays and Fridays (see the piece in the bulletin about what fasting entails).  Encourage your children to sacrifice something they really like and help them to stick to it throughout the whole season.  As a society, we rarely speak about sacrifice but we practice it every day; teenager’s sacrifice time with their friends in pursuit of athletic excellence, dad’s sacrifice early nights at home for that extra advantage at work, mom’s either sacrifice career opportunities to be stay-at-home or time with their children because they need to be “working moms.”  People sacrifice all the time, without identifying it as sacrifice.  The Church invites us not only to do it, but to name it so that we may focus all our spiritual energies during this “spring” time, lengthening the awareness of God’s presence in our lives. 

 Of course, don’t forget to get off to a good start by coming to church on Ash Wednesday to receive that one, special sign which is one of the signature signs of being a Catholic (but know that other Christian denominations have returned to the practice) – ashes.  Masses will be celebrated at 6:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 12:00 noon, & 7:30 PM, with services (but not Mass) at 4:00 PM and 5:30 PM.  Plenty of opportunity. 

 Another good way to get started is to attend one or all of the events of our one-day Parish Mission, next Saturday, Feb. 21st.  The day begins at 9:00 AM with a series of on-going presentations by some excellent speakers who will lead us into a deeper appreciation of our spiritual life.  Consult the bulletin or the website for more information. 

 Make this Lent the most memorable in recent years. 

 On another subject, last weekend was Pledge Sunday for the Annual Appeal for the Archdiocese. If you missed it, I want to briefly re-cap what I said, in conjunction with the DVD.  The Appeal is not about one person, nor is it about some amorphous bureaucracy in Newark.  The Appeal (a good word – appeal) placed before each of us some needs and asks us to answer two questions; (1) is it a real need and (2) is it worth support.  At all the masses, I spoke of my years at Catholic Charities and the 80,000 people who are served by it.  Part of the resources to meet these needs comes from an annual 1.5 million dollar grant from the Archdiocese.  Could these 80,000, homeless or hungry or jobless, be served without it?  No.  Is this a need?  Is it worth supporting?  In the DVD there were some familiar faces, Fr. Ivan, Fr. Jim Chern.  Mount Carmel has been blessed with some very dedicated priests.  When we (the present priests) are gone, will there be others to follow?  Only if there is a seminary to train and form them.  Is there a need?  Is it worth supporting?  When my predecessor (Fr. Bob Gibney) retired, he could look forward to someplace to go, one of the two retirement homes for priests, where he lived happily until his passing in 2012.  After forty-five or fifty years of faithful and dedicated service to the Church and the people of God, should a priest be able to count on such a place?  Is there a need?  Is it worth supporting?  22 of these retired priests are in residential nursing facilities, including Fr. Ed Thompson who served here.  Is there a need?  Is it worth supporting?  Over last weekend, 65 of our teenagers were on retreat at the Archdiocesan Youth Center in Kearny, one of 7 retreats the parish runs a year.  On the weekend retreats there, these teenagers have the opportunity to meet God in a new way.  And they do; I know because I hear their testimony.  Is there a need?  Is it worth supporting?

 The Annual Appeal is about one thing, and one thing only – the two questions, (1) is there a need and (2) is it worth supporting, everything else is extraneous.  If you can say yes, please make a pledge. If you say no, say a prayer that some say yes. 

 Blessings for a fruitful Lent,  
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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Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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