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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Because of the 4th of July holiday, legally celebrated on July 3rd, the bulletin needs to be in today, Tuesday, June 30th. Yesterday, the Governor announced a “pause,” as he calls it, ( I would call it a postponement), without a new date, in the reopening of the state, which involved the call-back of the opening of indoor dining. I thought that original date would be a good sign that the numbers for worship would soon go up. I now don’t think that’s going to happen too soon and the 100 max number will be around for a while. Because of this, I am repeating most of my column from last week which explains the systems we will use for celebrating Mass on the weekends, with a few changes. I have always said this is a “work in progress,” as experience teaches us new lessons.

Dear Friends,
Did you ever say to yourself, “I think I’ve been down this road before?” That’s the way I feel. It’s Wednesday morning (6/24) and we received word late last night that now that the Governor has increased the inside numbers to 25% of building capacity or 100, whichever is lower, parishes are now free to increase to that number for weekend Masses. For our church, 25% would be about 210, so, obviously, 100 is the number we will be working with for this weekend.

This new number requires some changes in the approach we took last week. Speaking of last weekend, I want to say thank you to all who made it work so easily last weekend. To the Ministers of Hospitality, the staff and all who simply “came to church,” your patience and cooperation were outstanding. Thank you.

Dear Friends,
First things first. Happy Father’s Day to all our dads. I hope this is a great day for you in every way possible. I have this on a plaque and I offer it as a reflection on fatherhood, though it does not speak to fatherhood directly:

“That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
- Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

Dear Friends,

As I was preparing to write this column (it’s Wednesday, 6/10), a movie came to mind – The Day After Tomorrow, a 2004 sci- fi flick about a catastrophic natural disaster which ushered in a new ice age. Presumably, the “tomorrow” was the disaster and “the day after” was what the new reality experienced in its aftermath. In my mind, the tomorrow has been these last twelve weeks,  since  the  last  time  public  mass  was  offered  in  this church, ending with this coming Sunday, 6/14. Because the “day after” is Monday, June 15, 2020, when the first public mass will be offered again.

Before  everybody  gets  too  excited,  remember  what  I  said above, the “day after” marked the new reality.  The opening on Monday will be a “new reality.”  The daily masses will be restricted  to  50  people,   who  will  have  to   wear   masks throughout the entire mass and practice social distancing, every other pew, with six feet lateral space between attendees.  As in supermarkets, you will only be able to move about the church according  to  the  directional  arrows  on  the  floor,  even  if  it means a longer walk.  Even on the communion line, you will need to keep the six foot distance and at the end of mass to leave, without congregating and without breaking that distancing. It will be a new reality for sure.

Dear Friends,

I give my column up this week to Archbishop José Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and his statement on the death of George Floyd. We were all horrified at the video which brought the tragedy and injustice of his death into our very homes. This should be for us a time to look into ourselves to be sure no taint of racism lingers there and to ask ourselves how we can bring an end to this scandalous evil in our country.

God Bless. Be Well and Be Safe
Fr. Ron

PS. As I write this on Tuesday morning, it is clear that churches will be cleared to open very soon. Please be sure to check the website daily for updated information.

Dear Friends,

Below is a column I wrote two years ago but I repeat it now. Especially in this pandemic and even more especially as we eagerly anticipate the gradual (for some, too gradual) easing of restrictions, we need to be reminded of who we are as Catholic Christians and what God is asking of us as our world starts up again. I pray that it renews your hope that the Spirit of the Lord Whom we love truly never abandons us but forever leads us to new life.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost, the gift from the Father and the Son of their Spirit to the disciples, gathered again in a room, which officially makes them the Church. And so, as we used to say in times past, today is the Feast of the birthday of the Church. We old timers remember the days when Pentecost would have been highlighted as the birthdate of the Church. And this is something that can’t be denied. As it is with all birthdays, so it is with the Church, born from the side of her crucified Lord, (as many great spiritual writers have reflected down through the ages), and brought to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, Happy Birthday, Church! I repeat below some thoughts from years past because, I believe they help us reflect on the full reality of this great gift the Church receives from her Lord.

Dear Friends,
In my column last Sunday, I told you I would share with you parts of the directives we received for the implementations of Phases II and III when it comes time. As I was going through them, it became clear to me that rather than try to summarize them, it would be better to let you read them, in their entirety. If you click on the green COVID 19 – UPDATES icon on the homepage of the parish website you will be able to read the directives in their entirety to give you an idea of what things will look like as we move from phase to phase. More specifics about the parish implementation of these directives will appear as we are about to move from one phase to another.

I just want to say a word about the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension which we celebrate today. This celebration has always been called Ascension Thursday, because it was celebrated 40 days after the Lord’s Resurrection. Most of the country moved the celebration of the Ascension to the Sunday before Pentecost some years ago but the northeast kept it on a Thursday. This year, because of the coronavirus, it has been moved to this last Sunday before Pentecost so it will be the first time in many years that many Catholics will be celebrating it. The Ascension marks the final event of the Paschal Mystery, the single saving event that is the heart of our Catholic faith, the suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension into glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the return of the Lord to the Father after completing the work of our salvation.

Dear Friends,

I was not going to write a column this week because I really had nothing new to share with you and I didn’t want to just keep repeating the same things over and over, as some of our political leaders seem to like to do. But late on Monday evening a new set of directives came out from the Archdiocese which, in fact, seems to be the opening of a new door.

The re-opening of churches and liturgical celebrations will occur in three phases. In Phase 1, churches will be re-opened for personal prayer. According to the directives, this re-opening will be “during limited and designated hours.” Persons coming into the church must be wearing masks and practice social distancing. Here at Mount Carmel we have not yet designated those hours but one thing we do know is that the church will not be open on Sundays, because we live-stream two Sunday masses, one in English at 11:00AM and one in Spanish at 3:00PM. But the church will be open for private prayer Monday through Saturday, beginning Monday, May 18. Please check the website on Sunday, May 17th, for those hours. I also ask you to follow the directional markings on the floor once you enter the church. From Mondays through Saturdays, the Blessed Sacrament will be reserved on the altar in the main church. Public celebrations, devotions and any group prayer are not permitted, according to the directives. Hand sanitizers are now available when you enter the interior doors into the church and I ask you to follow the directional markings on the floors. By the directives, all books and hymnals have been removed from the pew racks. Holy Water fonts will remain empty until further notice.

Dear Friends,

Today is Mother’s Day. Had we been in the church, we would have given a special blessing, which we will still do live-streaming and we would have given out carnations, which we will not do. In any case, we wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers. Each of us has our own stories to tell about the special woman who so shaped our lives. Tell them again today, even if it’s only to your own heart. There is an old Spanish proverb which I’ve quoted before: “An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy.” How true. I heard the mayor of a large city near us say that in the past, the greatest gift you could give your mother was to gather around her, but today, the greatest gift you can give her is to stay away. I’m not sure I buy that but, in any case, if your mom is still with us, reach out in some way to be near her. Today, the reflection below seems more appropriate than ever.

Dear Friends,

Thoughts that run through an idle mind:

Gratitude. I am so grateful to all the staff who continue to provide service to the community. Two weeks ago I expressed my thanks to our Music Ministry for the work they do for our live-streaming liturgies and for our maintenance staff for their continued care of the plant, and for those who help provide the livestreaming, as well as the other aspects of our “virtual” parish. But there are so many others who keep the parish alive. The members of our Religious Education office, Cathy Hunt, and Angela Krempel, assisted by Pat McGarvie, continue to provide resource materials, as well as prayer opportunities for our children and their families to complete the program year in their religious education journey. The same is true of Glen McCall and Natalie DeCandia, assisted by Jocelin Hernandez, who do the same for our teenagers in both the middle school years and high school years. And Peter Denio does the same for the adult community. Even from her “lock in” at Convent Station, Sr. Mary continues to keep me informed about the sick and homebound. And the rectory staff, Peggy, Patti, Rose and Luz continue to provide their services in such areas as the bulletin, the collection, housekeeping and cooking (on a limited basis), and Joan, the parish accountant, who keeps the lights on and the phones connected by paying the bills. Thanks to all of them the regular functions of the parish continue, even in a“virtual” and limited way.

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