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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Up and coming.

As the Second Vatican Council was ending, the Council Fathers expressed their desire to (now) Pope St. Paul VI that there be a way to continue the collegial experience that the Council exemplified, a way to be in communion with and assistance to the Roman Pontiff in the leadership of the Church. In response, on September 15, 1965 the Pope established the Synod of Bishops, a permanent body to enshrine the desire of the Council Father. The word synod comes from two Greek words meaning the "way" "together," basically an assembly, a people walking together on the road of life.

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year. Since I gave up my space last week to Fr. Frank, I'm late in wishing you every blessing for the New Year. I hope your Christmas was filled with a special experience of the presence of the Prince of Peace who brings you, not only peace, but hope for the future, knowing that His "enfleshment" is a real guarantee that He walks with us, accompanies us, is by our side in every moment of our lives. To enable us to get through the ever-present COVID-19, and all its variants (I just heard of a new one, from Southern France, on the news this morning), with all its twists and turns, we need to experience that presence which is Peace, itself. In this special season, I hope you have found that. I also hope your Christmas was spent with the people you love the most in the world and that your mutual love for each other was comforting and encouraging.

A Christmas Message From the Pastor

In this time of national anxiety and division, vaccinated/ unvaccinated, masked/unmasked, and world suffering and disruption, when omicron seems to be putting a pall over previously upbeat holiday plans, I repeat a Christmas column I wrote several years ago. At one time, the Advent Little Blue Book did a reflection on the word "merry." I quote. "Merry did not originally convey a sense of jolly, mirthful. It meant something more along the lines of 'blessed, peaceful'-a deep inner joy rather than revelry. One gets a sense of its original meaning in the well-known carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. As can be seen from the comma, the word is not used to describe jolly gentlemen, but rather a blessing from God invoked upon them."

Dear Friends,

As I mentioned in my column last week, Advent is the second longest it can be this year. You might be saying what is he talking about, isn't Advent always 4 weeks long. Yes and no. Advent always has four Sundays, but isn't always four weeks long. When Christmas is on a Saturday, as it is this year, the 4th Sunday of Advent will be followed by 6 days, including Christmas Eve. When Christmas is on a Sunday, as it will be next year, Advent will have a full week following the 4th Sunday. But the following year, 2023, Christmas will be on a Monday and so the 4th Sunday of Advent will also be Christmas Eve, and Advent will have no days following the 4th Sunday. Just a little ecclesiastical liturgical trivia.

Dear Friends,

I wonder if you're having the same feelings that I am. I can't believe Christmas is less than two weeks away (ok, by 1 day only). But I'm also having a feeling that I'm sure you're not-that we seem to have been in Advent forever. Advent this year is one day shorter than the longest it can be. And next year it will be the longest-4 full weeks. How these two realities play in my mind is that at one and the same time I know how much I have to do but I'm fooled into thinking I have a lot of time to do it, but I don't. And neither do you. And we're on the same page with that one.

Dear Friends,

As I write this on Wednesday evening, the government has just announced the first case of the Omicron variant in the United States in San Francisco. But the individual had been vaccinated, but not "boosted," the symptoms had been mild and the individual was on the road to recovery. What to make of these circumstances in light of the original predictions the day after Thanksgiving? Well, I might say, "your guess is as good as mine."

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! WHAT????? Has the pastor lost his mind? New Year's Day is still a month away. But not in the eyes and mind of the Church. This is the first weekend of Advent, the beginning of the new Liturgical Year in the life of the Church. Literally Advent means "to come to," to come to that moment when God would speak to us in an irrevocable way, assuring us of His presence, not just at that moment in chronological history (4 BC, when history tells us Jesus was born), but for all time. Advent is the time to remember that irrevocable moment and to prepare for His 2nd Coming in that remembering. It is a time of preparation.

Dear Friends,

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (the official title). It is also the last Sunday of the Church's liturgical year.

As feasts go, Christ the King (the more common title) is really a late-comer. As I have written before, it was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a counterweight to the growing trend to deify the state as the ultimate source of both power and loyalty. This was most especially exemplified by the totalitarian governments of the time, especially the communists in Russia, the fascists in Italy and, later, the Nazis in Germany. The Church was reacting to systems of government that sought to place themselves, instead of God, in the hearts of their citizens. While all three may have gone away, the errors they propounded have stayed, taking other forms.

Dear Friends,

We had a great (but mini) celebration of the Saints at and after the 9:30AM Mass last weekend. They processed around the church at the end of Mass and then went outside on the Passaic Street lawn for games, donuts and Juice. You can find the pictures on the parish website. It was great to see so many children in church and, hopefully another sign of a return to a "more" normal life. The smiling faces and the excitement were a welcome sight after so many months of wariness because of Covid.

Speaking of a return to a "more" normal life, I want to share with you some concrete numbers that show that to be the case. I'm sure many remember the days when you had to register when planning to come to mass. When we first started registration, Labor Day weekend, 2020, the total number in attendance at all the masses was 461. At March, 2021, one year after the start of the pandemic, it was 726. By May, when registration ended, it was 895. In September, 2021, we did a special count the last two weekends and the attendance averaged 1409. We did another mass count this past weekend and the number was 1805. So, we've come a long way since the Labor Day weekend, 2020. But still a far distance from the average pre-covid attendance, November, 2019, which was 2501. But we keep trying and, hopefully, the upward trend will continue.

Dear Friends,

After an absence of two weeks (one for the Cardinal and one for Fr. Felix), I finally get to write again. I want to share a couple of experiences with you.

On October 23, I renewed the vows of the first couple I ever married on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. As a deacon and in my first year as a priest I taught the marriage course to seniors at Holy Family High School (now closed) in Union City. The bride to be was one of my students and her intended was already out of high school, working. They married two months after graduation. It was a time when pre-cana was just beginning, there was no "one year in advance" notice to the church and reception venues could be booked one or two months in advance. It was a great joy for me to celebrate with them, to see that their mutual love and faith in God and the power of the sacrament would see them through the joys and struggles of marriage. I had not seen them in about 45 years and so I had the chance to meet their three grown children and their six grandchildren. All of them are faithful, practicing Catholics and in a card they said there was no doubt that the "marriage blessing .influenced our path in life." It was a joy to share that special evening with them and to know that God has walked with them in these years.


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One Passaic St., Ridgewood, NJ 07450
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