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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Three years ago this past Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, 2020, the last public masses were celebrated in this church which was then locked to the faithful. Think about these words. Who would have ever thought such a thing would be possible. And locked it remained for three months, actually one day short of three full months. And it began a time in our lives like no other any of us had ever experienced. In my column, I ended with these words, “I pray the Lord fills you with a peace that comes from a faith in his presence in your lives and you draw strength from that to face every day, every challenge, every burden with renewed confidence.” While the pandemic has eased, other challenges still remain. May those words be ever true in our lives.

Dear Friends,

The sublime—meaning Scripture

Turning first this week to the Lenten Gospels. I have mentioned many times that the Church uses a three-year cycle of readings for the Sunday liturgies. These are generally identified as the year of Matthew (Cycle A), the year of Mark (Cycle B) and the year of Luke (Cycle C). We are in the year of Matthew, Cycle A, and have been reading from Matthew since the end of the Christmas season. The themes of the first two Sundays of Lent, no matter what cycle is read, are always the same, the temptation in the desert, (1st Sunday) and the transfiguration (2nd Sunday) and we read Matthew’s recounting of these events on the last two Sundays. Beginning with the third Sunday, today, the readings diverge in their themes. As I mentioned in my homily last weekend, in Cycle A, the themes for all the Sundays of Lent keeping asking the same question—who is this Jesus of Nazareth and what does it mean to believe in him as the Messiah? Cycle A is especially used for the catechumens, those preparing to be baptized, asking them to reflect on this question, who is this Jesus, before they ask to be baptized into his life. On the 1st Sunday of Lent, Satan challenges Jesus, “If you are the Son of God.” Last Sunday, God acknowledges Jesus as His Son, “this is My Beloved Son.” The next three Sundays will focus on thirst (today), on light (the 4th Sunday) and on life (the 5th Sunday) and they will all come from the Gospel of John.

Dear Friends,

Before the sublime, the mundane-

Before I go into today’s Scripture, another reminder of the Annual Appeal. As of today (2/28), 184 donors have pledged $122,090 to the Annual Appeal. By comparison, at this time last year 205 donors had pledged $111,820. So, we are slightly ahead of last year’s response, but we have a long way to go. Our first objective now is to reach our stretch goal of $137,423 in pledges and then in cash so we can take advantage of the rebate offered by the Archdiocese. If you haven’s pledged yet, I invite you to take the time this week to do so. A video of my talk at the Masses on Pledge Sunday is still viewable on the Homepage of our website. Please go to that for an explanation of the needs. You will be receiving another letter from me in the near future so, please join so many others in support of this work of the Church. In addition, you will be helping the parish to continue to sustain the present level of service and ministries, even with the decline in ordinary support, the result of the continued effect of the pandemic. Please make a pledge today and the easiest way is to go to the link on the homepage of our website.

Dear Friends,

I hope everyone made a good beginning of Lent by their observance of Ash Wednesday. From my informal observation, it seemed that the numbers were closest to pre- pandemic numbers we last saw in 2020. While some decry what they see as A & P Catholics (ashes and palms), I see it as a sign that somewhere in people’s deepest consciousness, there is still a glimmer of faith and it is our calling as a community, the whole community, to help that glimmer grow until it becomes a bright light, shinning in the darkness of our world. Let’s all be dedicated to that. If you know someone, or some family that came on Wednesday, encourage them to come again during this Lenten season.

Dear Friends,

Wednesday of this week is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of Lent. As you have heard many times 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 more than a month away, the temperatures have certainly put us in a more spring-like mood than in a winter mood (let’s hope it stays like that through March). And Daylight Savings Time begins in only three weeks.

Dear Friends,

For the next couple of weeks, at least part of my column will be dedicated to the Annual Appeal. If you were at church last weekend, I hope I made my case for your participation in this year’s Appeal. In the presentation, I stressed that third segment, Caring for the Poor and Vulnerable. I had no intention of slighting the other segments, Proclaiming the Gospel, Passing on the Faith and Forming Future Priests and Supporting Retired Clergy (where I expect to be in the not-to-distant future). They are all essential elements of the Church’s mission. But since the Sunday Readings stressed “sharing your food with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless,” and letting “your good deeds shine before,” I thought it a good time to stress how the Archdiocese supports these Gospel imperatives by its support of Catholic Charities, particularly the Agency’s ministry to the homeless, which it does through its shelters. I don’t want to repeat it here but if you go to the parish website, my full homily, and the Cardinal’s video message, can be found on the homepage. You can’t miss them. The one is contained within the other.

Dear Friends,

First, I want to thank all the students from the Academy of Our Lady who participated in last weekend’s liturgies. The readers, the greeters, the gift bearers and the speakers all did a wonderful job and are a testament to the success of the Academy as a CATHOLIC and a SCHOOL. It is a Catholic School worth supporting and worth considering for your children. Although Catholic Schools Week may officially be over there’s always opportunity to visit the school to see if it’s right for your children.

Dear Friends,

As you can see from the front cover of today’s bulletin, Catholic Schools Week begins today. This is the week throughout the nation when we celebrate the history of, and continuing presence of the Catholic school as part of the American Catholic parish experience. There are a host of activities happening at our school, the Academy of Our Lady, which we support along with St. Catharine’s. At the conclusion of all the masses this weekend, both here and at St. Catharine’s, a student from the Academy, from his/her particular parish, will speak of their experience at the Academy. I know you will be impressed.

Dear Friends,

Congratulations to Fr. Frank, Peter Denio, Kristin Halvey and their team for the successful inauguration of Discovering Christ in our parish. There was a sell-out crowd last Thursday for the first session and, I think, it was an enthusiastic crowd, eager to hear and share the Word of God. From the responses, it seems the ChristLife program, of which Discovering Christ is the first part, will be a strong opportunity to experience the presence of Christ in our lives. Why do I say strong and not something else, like great. Basically, because the parish is about “strengthening” faith. Whether through the sacraments, liturgy (mass), or service, (the Nurturing Place, food drives), or community building, (MOMs, Cornerstone), or formation, (CCD, Adult Faith Formation), the parish is the place where the Catholic Christian has the opportunity to meet Christ, to encounter Him and to come to a deeper awareness of His presence in our lives. And so I pray that Discovering Christ will have a strong impact on the life of this community.

Dear Friends,

When I was in the Seminary back in the 60’s (1960’s that is) we used to call this time of year a Darlington February. The formal name was Immaculate Conception Seminary but more often than not we used the shorter form, Darlington, the name for that section of Mahwah, to refer to the place we lived and were schooled. The February referred to that time of year from our return from Christmas break to the Easter break and usually in the negative, because we were never allowed off the grounds. Thus, a Darlington February was a kind of bleak time in our lives.

As we are almost at February I can’t help but think back to those days even though our days at OLMC are nothing like that. As I write this, Discovering Christ, fully booked, begins tomorrow evening. In another two weeks, our first Men’s Cornerstone since 2020 will be held and a week after that only the third Journey Retreat (Confirmation retreat) at the retreat center in Kearney since March of 2020. The faith community here at Mount Carmel is growing and coming back to life after the pause created by the pandemic.


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