My dear people of St. Mary’s:
This weekend we observe the last Sunday in Ordinary Time until that season resumes on May 21, 2018, after the conclusion of the Easter Season. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Although Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it remains one of the most popular days in the Church’s calendar for Catholics to attend Mass and to receive ashes.
This year, as in the past, we will have Mass on Ash Wednesday at 7:30 am, 9:00 am, & 12:15 pm in the Church. We will also have a Prayer Service at the Hall at 4:30 pm, and a Mass in the Hall at 7:00 pm. Ashes will be distributed at all the Masses and the Prayer Service on Ash Wednesday.
You will also have the opportunity to go to Confession this Ash Wednesday. Confessions will be heard in the Church from 8:00 am to 8:45 am & from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Confessions will also be heard in the Hall from 3:30 pm to 4:15 pm & from 5:45 pm to 6:45 pm. Lent is a wonderful time to make use of the Sacrament of Confession. As we did last year, there will be more than fifty scheduled hours of confessions during the season of Lent to help you receive this often-neglected Sacrament.
This year, Ash Wednesday fall on Valentine’s Day. Because of the tremendous importance of Ash Wednesday as a day of fast and abstinence, the Church does not permit us to give a dispensation on that day. So, I suggest that couples simply transfer their celebration of Valentine’s Day to a different day that week. The good news is that this will not happen again until 2024!
On January 31st, we celebrated the funeral Mass of long-time parishioner Gregory Hensas. Gregory was a veteran of the U.S. Army and a retired attorney. Possessing a wonderful singing voice, he had been a member of our choir, and generally came to everything offered here at St. Mary’s. For years he was a fixture at our 9:00 am daily Mass where he served as a lector, and at the Sunday 9:00 am Mass as well. He was also well-known for his brisk, energetic walking, especially to Church, and in even the worst weather. His death at the age of 71 was unexpected.
On the day of the funeral, I was very moved to see so many parishioners come to the requiem of a man who considered the people of St. Mary’s Parish to be his family. There were more than sixty parishioners of all ages in attendance at the Mass. Beforehand, I told the people that it is customary for family members to process in behind the casket at a funeral Mass. Since there were no family present, I invited anyone in the congregation to join in the procession. Most of those present rose and went to stand behind the casket. Gregory was a man who focused his last years on prayer and simplicity of life. I found his funeral Mass to be one of the most beautiful and moving I have ever celebrated. That is due entirely to you, the people of St. Mary’s, who came out in such numbers, out of love for a parishioner whose name you may never have known, but who you knew by sight as a fellow disciple of the Lord. You did not want him to have a funeral without mourners, and so you made his one of the larger funerals we have done recently. This is one of the reasons we are so blessed here at St. Mary’s, and why I am so grateful to the Lord and to you.