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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have mentioned several times that when the Advent Season is as long as it can be, then the Christmas season is as short as it can be. We have seen that this year, when there were no Sundays between Christmas and January 1 and between January 1 and the celebration of the Epiphany which is this weekend. So, the liturgical Christmas season ends tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 9th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

I had mentioned last week that a number of people spoke to me about the Christmas message I sent by phone to all our parish households. If I may, I want to repeat some of it now. I said that I was...

Dear Friends,

I have often wished you all a happy new year; in September, when we begin the new program/school year, or on the first Sunday of Advent, when we begin the new Church year. But today, I can actually wish all a—Happy New Year and actually mean the beginning of a new calendar year. So Happy New Year.

During the Advent season I would often mention that this year was the longest Advent it could be, a full week for the 4th Sunday of Advent. (Next year, Advent will be the shortest; the 4th Sunday of Advent will also be Christmas Eve.) Because Advent is the longest, the Christmas season will be the shortest. Usually there is a Sunday between Christmas and January 1 which is Holy Family Sunday. The first Sunday after January 1 is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany and that is followed by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, because Christmas and January 1 are Sundays, there is no Sunday between them. The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Friday, December 30th and the Epiphany is celebrated Sunday, January 8th and the Baptism of the Lord on Monday January 9th. That Feast marks the official end of the liturgical season we call the Christmas Season.

Dear Friends,

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The premier hymn of the Advent season. We are most familiar with the refrain, which continues, “Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel, To Thee Shall Come Emmanuel.” Emmanuel - God With Us. As we celebrate Christmas today, we affirm - God Is With Us.

One of the deeply reflective moments in the preparation to this day has been the daily Alleluia Verse, the short line that is said (sung on Sundays, preceded and followed by ALLELUIA) before the Gospel reading. In these verses, the Church sums up the yearnings of our hearts as we prepare to welcome the most generous gift that can ever be given - the gift of God, Himself, in the form of the Child Jesus. These verses form some of the verses of that popular hymn and they began on the 17th and continued every day until the 23rd. They are called the O Antiphons, because they were originally (and still) sung as part of Vespers, the Evening Prayer of the Church. The verse appears in italic, the plain print is my commentary.

Dear Friends,

A big THANK YOU to the choirs of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Adult Choir, the Children’s Choir, the Contemporary Band, the Bell Choir, the Spanish Choir and the Cantors for the beautiful gift of Advent and Christmas music they gave us on the evening of Dec. 9th. In a wonderful mixing of style and meaning they presented the Christmas Story as an inspiration and as entertainment. What an incredible array of talent was on display that evening and what an extraordinary gift of that talent to the parish community. Not to take away from any other group, for me, it was the Children’s Choir who made my night. But thank you to all, and to the leaders and directors for all you do for the Music Ministry here at OLMC, not just on that night but for adding to the praise and worship we give to the Lord in our weekly liturgies every week. We are grateful.

Dear Friends,

Does anyone remember Dolores Hart? I asked this question in my homily last Sunday. To my surprise, a few hands went up. Dolores Hart was an American actress whose first movie role was opposite Elvis Presley in the 1957 movie, Loving You. She made ten films in five years, including the cult-like Where the Boys Are. While filming Francis of Assisi in Italy in 1960, she joined the film crew in an audience with Pope St. John XXIII. She introduced herself as “Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare” (St. Clare), to which the Pope responded, “No, you are Clare.”

Dear Friends,

Over the last three months or so you have been hearing about the House Gatherings we’ve celebrated around the parish. As I have mentioned at the gatherings, the idea was that we would have these gatherings in the fall of 2020, right after the three month lockdown. The purpose was simply to get people together, in small numbers, to reintroduce themselves to one another. Then DELTA hit and we needed to cancel. We tried it again in the fall of 2021 but OMICRON hit and we had to cancel again. We decided to do them in the fall of 2022 even though most of us had been “out and about” for many months. I think they were a success. People came who didn’t know each other and got to meet “new” (even if only to them) members of the congregation. I want to share with the parish the thoughts I shared at the “gatherings” I was able to attend.

Dear Friends,

An abbreviated column this week because the deadline for the bulletin is today (Monday) and my brain is not yet recovered from the weekend.

As I mentioned in my column last weekend and as the bulletin cover reminds us, this weekend is the Academy of Our Lady Weekend. It is a reminder that a Catholic School Apostolate is alive and well in Mount Carmel (and in St. Catharine, Glen Rock) in the Academy of Our Lady, an excellent place to form the Catholics of today and, especially, of tomorrow. I don’t want to repeat everything I’ve said already last week, I just want to remind everyone of its existence and to ask for your continued financial support for the school. As I do every year (except through the pandemic), I ask every parish household to make a contribution of $100. to help us keep the opportunity for a Catholic school education alive and well in our parish. I know that not every family is in a position to handle the cost of tuition, especially in these difficult times, but everyone could be in a position to help so that others who are able to make the sacrifice can do so. If you can do so, please take an envelope home with you, fill it out and drop if off next weekend or send it directly to the school. You can do a onetime gift or make a pledge payable over whatever time you choose. Maybe a gift of $25 a week for the four weeks of Advent would be a good way to prepare for God’s greatest gift to us, His Son, Jesus Christ. Please help keep Catholic school education alive and well at Mount Carmel. Envelopes are available in the pews and on all the tables at the doors of the church this weekend.

Dear Friends,

Two weeks ago I mentioned the cruise I would be on when you read that Sunday’s bulletin. It was a great time, plenty of rest, relaxation and sunshine. I am grateful it was not this most recent past week because it appears from the forecasts hurricane Nicole would have been a constant “companion on the journey,” and an unwanted one at that. I’m grateful to the staff, and especially, Fr. Anthony, for holding down the fort, especially in light of Fr. Frank’s unanticipated illness (of which he’s recovered). But the real reason I bring this up is something I observed on the cruise. We were told the ship was full which, according to its website, that means 4,180 passengers. What struck me was the uninhibited freedom of movement and action these passengers exhibited. Whether on the elevators, the lounges, the dining rooms, in fact, throughout the whole ship, very few wore masks or shied away from contact with others, most of whom would have been strangers. Without wanting to “bite my tongue” sometime down the line, it appeared that everyone acted as if the pandemic was over. Certainly there was no hesitation in engaging with other people. I hope that’s the sign of both the present and things to come.

Dear Friends,

Varia—a Latin word meaning characteristically different, the root of the English word various.

- If you attended the 9:30AM or the 6:30PM Mass this past weekend, I hope you were as thrilled as I was about the attendance. At both masses, the church was filled with parish families. It was part of their Religious Education program in which they were invited to attend a “Teaching Mass.” You may wonder what a teaching mass is. Simply, it’s a regular mass during which someone, in the case of last Sundays masses, that would be me, stops at different times of the mass to explain what’s happening and why it’s happening. It’s an attempt to understand the Mass better with the hope that it will become a deeper prayer/spiritual experience. I can’t tell if that actually happened (although I’ve gotten a few emails indicating it did), but I hope it did and I hope it leads more of our parish families to come more regularly. Both masses ran almost 70 minutes and many stayed for the refreshments that were served outside afterwards. Thank you to all who participated and especially to the children who served in the liturgical ministries and all the families who helped in any way.

Dear Friends,

Because we’re getting closer to the “cold” season, we’re once again getting warnings about the possibility of an increase of Covid infections or the appearance of new strains resistant to the present vaccines. I suppose this is inevitable, even if unwelcome.

February/March will mark the third anniversary of the emergence of the pandemic and as we look back we learned many lessons about ourselves. I think one of those is our need for community, in the broadest sense of that work. We came to realize that we live in many communities, each of which supports us in our journey. The first, of course, is the immediate family. Especially during the months of the lockdown we came to appreciate those members of our immediate family with whom we live. We talked more, played together more and learned more about each other than ever before. Hopefully those intimate days, weeks, months together brought us closer together in love and appreciation.


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