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Dear Friends,
Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday. Like the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudate Sunday), the Church takes a little breather this weekend from the seriousness of the Lenten Season to remind us that Lent is not the end of the story, the end of the story is Easter, the joy of the Risen Christ and the fullness of life and grace He bestows on those who believe in Him. And the Church does this by signs and symbols, the Rose Vestments, instead of the somber violet. Lent is a journey, a journey to the Easter Alleluia, and we should never lose sight of that.

These weeks, today included, we also celebrate the Scrutinies, special rites of prayer, blessings and self-searching, by and for the Elect, those who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. I’m afraid some of the more mundane happenings in parish life, Living Stones, the great garage distraction, a new program we have been asked to pilot called Be My Witness (as important as they may be), have kept me from writing often enough to remind the whole parish of the great journey of faith we call, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This RCIA is the journey of adults seeking baptism into the Catholic Church and thus, membership in the community of faith. It is also the journey of those who have already been baptized into another Christian community and now seek full communion with the Catholic Church as well as baptized Catholics who are completing their Sacraments of Initiation, Eucharist and Confirmation. Over the course of the last year and a half, Kimberly Michel has been preparing for baptism and membership in the community of faith. Over the course of that time, at significant moments, various rites and blessings have been celebrated with and for her at the 11:00 AM Sunday Liturgy. I had thought this year to celebrate them at different Masses but, once again, with all that has sidetracked me, we continue to celebrate them at the 11:00.

Today is the 2nd of 3 Scutinies. As I mentioned above, these are three weeks of self-searching, when the Elect are invited to uncover, then heal all that is weak in themselves and to strengthen all that us upright, strong and good. And by association, the congregation is invited to do the same, in preparation for their own renewal of their baptismal promises. These rites invite the Elect to complete conversion and to deepen the resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out the decision to love God. It is a great moment for our parish to accompany this Elect in the final stages of her journey. And it would be a wonderful sign of the parish’s joy at her baptism if we could fill the church at the Easter Vigil, a welcome befitting her decision to acknowledge Christ as her Lord.

While the Gospel for the 11:00 AM Mass will be the gospel of the Cure of the Man Born Blind, for all the other Masses it will be the familiar story of the Prodigal Son, sometimes also called the Forgiving Father. Imagine if one of your children had asked you for his/her share of the inheritance, even before you died. And was serious about it. How deep would be your hurt? And in a society like the one in which Jesus lived, how deep the shame, that a child could do that to you. Who knows what it took that father to scrape together that share? Did he have to sell off some land? The pain must have been tremendous. And yet, that father goes out every day, looking for this son, yearning for this wayward and hurtful child. And when he finally spots him, he runs out to meet him, embraces him and celebrates his return. How great is that father’s love?

That’s the Father’s love for us, the wayward, ungrateful, selfish sinners who never seem to appreciate God’s love and goodness. And God waits for us, looking to see if we are not just over that hill, ready to embrace us, and celebrate because of us.
Will the Father see you, just over that hill? At reconciliation this Monday evening, or on Saturday, or the Saturday (3/19) before Palm Sunday or at the Parish Penance Service on the 22nd, or confessions on the 23rd? Will He see you there? Will you give Him the chance to embrace you and celebrate with and because of you?
Only you can answer that.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron

PS. Speaking of the mundane – but important – if you haven’t responded to the invitation to either of the two remaining receptions for Living Stones, please come anyway, Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM or Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 PM. Both in the Parish Center. Please us the Passaic Street entrance.

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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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