Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Friday afternoon, February 2, at the 5:30pm daily Mass, the Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a.k.a., Candlemas. The theme of Christ as Light pervades this celebration. Traditionally, we bless candles at the beginning of the Mass, which we then use in a short procession. We also bless some of the candles used in the celebration of Mass through the year. You are also welcome to bring candles from home that you will use in your private prayer to be blessed.
Saturday morning, February 3, is the feast of St. Blaise and the annual Blessing of Throats at the end of the 8:00am Mass. All people are welcome to receive this blessing, which is done with blessed candles from Candlemas the day before. "Through the intercession of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may you be delivered from every disease of the throat and from every other illness. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Don't forget that next weekend, our parish will not celebrate the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Instead we will celebrate the Anniversary of the Dedication of St. Mary's, a Solemnity for our parish. This annual celebration becomes and opportunity for the local Church community to remember its identity within the larger context of the Church universal. Our church building symbolizes us, living stones of the Temple of Christ. The sacred mysteries of our salvation are presented here in this place, which becomes, then, the threshold of the gate of heaven. Salvation is taking place now in this place!
All Masses of next weekend will be the Anniversary of the Dedication with special readings and hymns. In particular, please note that the 11:00am Mass will be a special bilingual Mass, bringing together the whole parish community as one. Use this opportunity to pray for our parish and for your mission as part of this family to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A reminder that Ash Wednesday (a day on which Catholics fast and also abstain from meat) falls this year on St. Valentine's Day, February 14. Since all who are able and of age must observe the fast, perhaps St. Mary's couples might not cancel but move their celebrations to Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, February 13, which is already a day of feasting and celebration. Restaurants will be happy to have you the night before!
Finally, with the flu season getting worse, some reminders: Our Catholic theology rightly teaches us that Jesus in not somehow "divided" in Holy Communion. We receive the fullness of His grace from only receiving the Consecrated Host. If you are sick, if you think you might be sick, or you have someone in your house who is sick, please receive Our Lord under the Sacred Host only to protect our elderly and young (and everyone, really). Also, at the Sign of Peace, a simple smile and the word, "Peace," is just fine. It may be the person next to you doesn't want to give you more than "Peace."