February 21, 2021 – Father’s Ramblings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Lent is upon us. I am writing to you now because the Bishop has just updated us regarding the dispensation from the Sunday obligation. The current general dispensation continues through

Ash Wednesday (February 17th). In light of the continuing situation, the Bishop has extended the dispensation indefinitely with a significant caveat. The extended, indefinite dispensation applies only to those who have health reasons or other excusing factors.

One can reasonably ask what such an excusing factor might be. A good way to understand this would be the general reasons that someone would be excused from their Sunday obligation during normal times. These would be such things as serious inclement weather, caring for a sick person who cannot be left alone, and so on. For those who do not have a health reason or such an excusing factor, there is no longer a dispensation from the obligation to assist at Mass on Sunday.

With this call to return to Mass, remember we are still taking the basic safety precautions of masks and distancing to help look out for each other’s wellbeing. The signups for Mass go up each Wednesday on the parish website. If you are not able to make Mass here, there are other options in the area.

It is fitting that this call to return to Mass comes with the beginning of Lent. During this holy season we are to intensify our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Those spiritual practices that are to be a normal part of our spiritual lives should be stepped up so that we will be ready to rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ on Easter. I am praying for all of you that this Lent is a time of drawing deeper into the mystery of Christ and His great work of salvation.

Many of our normal Lenten practices will be going on. We will be having Stations of the Cross. Extra times for Confession have been added. Of course, Adoration will be continuing, along with the regular Mass schedule. Some things will be different. As with Advent, I won’t be having a single, large Penance Service. Rather, I will be bringing in a different priest for five Wednesdays of Lent. Be on the lookout for other such adaptations.

Even though things will be different, thankfully we are allowed to gather as a community of faith. We are closing in on the one-year anniversary of the Great Toilet Paper Famine of 2020, and what a year it has been. When this all started, I never thought it would be going on this long. It wasn’t until the summer, early summer I think, that it finally sunk in that this was going to be a long, long road.

Looking back over the past year, I am sure we can all identify many challenges. I hope, though, that we can also identify many blessings and opportunities. There have been new opportunities to embrace suffering and to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. There have been new

opportunities to reach out in charity to others. There have been new opportunities to grow in prayer and our relationship with the Lord as many of the temptations of this world have been taken away.

Looking ahead, I make no predictions, other than there will be many more such opportunities. I have learned over the past year to be very cautious in my predictions. Rather, looking ahead, and with the Season of Lent upon us, the time is ripe to make good use of the opportunities for holiness that the Lord will send our way.

With this in mind, I do want to continue to thank all of you who have continued to support the parishes. You have been taking this opportunity to sacrifice so that our communities of faith will continue for you and for others. Both St. Mary and St. Anthony have been holding their own because of your continued generosity. Thank you.

Speaking of money (notice my tactful segue) we come again to the annual collection for the diocese, the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA), also known as So Faith May Flourish. Recently I received the first mailing, which you will be receiving as well. In the next couple weeks you should be receiving more information in the mail regarding this collection. Remember, each parish gets assessed a certain amount, and if that amount is not raised by your pledges, each parish is on the hook for the difference. Any amount raised over the assessment returns to the parish.

For last year’s collection, St. Anthony did go over the assessed amount. It wasn’t as much as in previous years, but still we exceeded our goal. Thank you. For St. Mary, we fell short of the goal, and the parish will be writing checks over the next few months to pay off the assessment. Thankfully, the assessments for both parishes have gone down this year, so hopefully we can do even better.

As always, please be attentive to the CSA mailings as the come in. This collection is important for the diocese and for the parish. Regardless of how much you are able to pledge, please make sure you fill out the pledge cards and turn them in. Many hands make light work, and the more that is raised means more will comes back to the parish.

My prayers are with you as we go through this holy Season of Lent and as we continue to find our way through the strange paths this world lays out for us. May the Lord fill you with His grace that you might be a light to the world in the midst of darkness.

–Fr. Ferris

St. Anthony
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church strives to be “A Parish with a Heart.” Using our time, talents and treasures, our parish family is dedicated to the faith formation of our youth and living the gospel in our community.
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