Pastor's Corner 012713

posted Jan 24, 2013, 7:03 AM by Music Director

This week we say goodbye to the month of January and hello to February, the shortest month on the calendar.  That’s 1 winter month down, 2 to go!  Though some will look for a forecast of the remainder of winter by observing a large burrowing rodent, for Catholic Christians February 2 marks something more important than “Groundhog Day.”  It is the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation, commemorating the time when the infant Jesus was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph 40 days after His birth.  (Funny how that number keeps popping up in Scripture and tradition!) 

This feast is often referred to as “Candlemas Day,” for part of its celebration includes the blessing of candles used in worship throughout the year.  We remember the words of Simeon, who took the Holy Child in his arms and praised God for revealing in Him “a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel.” (Luke 2: 22-32).  The use of candles in liturgy and other prayer forms reminds us that Jesus is the Light we are called to follow; Light that guides our living in this world and leads us to the next. 

            Some of those candles will be used the very next day as we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Blase with the traditional Blessing of Throats, which will take place at the end of all Masses next weekend.  St. Blase was the bishop of Sebastea, Armenia, the first nation to officially adopt Christianity, though some were slow to accept the king’s decree.  In the year 316 AD, Agricolaus, the non-believing governor of Sebastea, ordered Blase arrested and executed for refusing to offer sacrifices to pagan gods.  According to legend, as Blase was being led to prison a mother ran up to him with her young son who had a fish bone caught in his throat.  Blase prayed over the boy, gave a command, and the boy was able to cough up the bone, which saved his life.  While imprisoned, many of the faithful visited their bishop and asked him to bless their candles for use during prayer. His cult spread throughout Europe, and since the Middle Ages throats are blessed on his feast day.  Through his prayers, we hope to be spared from diseases of the throat and other respiratory illness. 

            St. Blase is just one more example of how God works through the followers of His Son; and that IS the point, isn’t it?  As followers of Jesus, we are called to be instruments through which Our Lord continues to reach out and minister to others.  Through us, the Light of Christ must shine.  This is the mission of our Catholic school systems, which we celebrate during this “Catholic Schools Week.” 

It is sad that so many have had to close due to declining enrollment and financial support.  It’s not that anyone wants to see it happen, but gone are the days of large families who enrolled their children in the local parochial school.  Gone are the convents full of Sisters who labored for room, board and literally $1 a day, teaching those children.  Gone are the days when parishioners volunteered professional services that now must be paid for when the boiler breaks and the roof leaks.  If parents today cannot or will not enroll their children in our Catholic schools; if they are not supported, financially and otherwise by the communities they serve, they cannot endure.

               We are fortunate to have an excellent regional Catholic School in Our Lady of Hope, Blackwood, thanks to our principal, Sr. Paula, and a very talented, dedicated, hard-working faculty and staff.  They are supported by a School Board made up of individuals who hold dear the value of Catholic education, understand and sustain the mission of Catholic schools, and whose expertise will help ours to not just survive but grow.  Rather than an advisory board of interested parents of its students, the new board is comprised of experts from many vocational backgrounds, including business owners, financial officers, CPA’s, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement personnel and other professionals.  Some are parents of current students; some are alumni; some just want to support the school and its mission.  If you might be interested in serving on the Our Lady of Hope School Board, PLEASE let me know!

               There are events at Our Lady of Hope all week in celebration of Catholic Schools Week.  Call the school office or visit their website for more information.  Schedule a visit; see this wonderful institution in action; and consider enrolling your children or grandchildren for an educational experience they, and you, will never regret!

               Finally, a word of welcome for my beloved Philadelphia Eagles new head coach, Chip Kelly; and a sad goodbye to parishioners Rick and Kristine Burkholderand their daughters, Quinn and Carly.  Rick has been the Eagles head trainer for many years, but will be going to Kansas City with former Eagles coach Andy Reid.  Rick and his family will be greatly missed but we wish them God’s blessings in their new home and city. 

               It will soon be time for pitchers and catchers to report for spring training, but in the meantime…


Let’s go Flyers and Sixers!


In His Love,

Fr. Mike