Dear Parishioners: February is here already! It’s hard to believe but Lent begins in just over a week on February 13th! It comes early this year as does Easter Sunday which is on March 31st. In order to prepare for this season of renewal and repentance I have included in the bulletin a schedule of Lenten Activities. These Lenten activities include an additional Daily Mass at 12:05 PM, Confessions twice a week on Mondays and Saturdays, Stations of the Cross on Fridays and a Lenten Mission in March. Also there will be an Adult Education Series on the Mondays of Lent that will begin on February 18th. More information on the series will be coming soon. But please make room in your calendar now for these important activities as Lent will soon be upon us!
If you have any old blessed palm branches from last year’s Palm Sunday Celebration, please bring them to Church next weekend. We will be collecting your old palm branches so we can make new ashes for Ash Wednesday. There will be a box in the vestibule to place your palm branches before and after Masses.
This Sunday the Church marks the Feast of St. Blaise with the traditional blessing of throats. We know that Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. He was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. Persecution of Christians still raged in Armenia and Blaise was forced to flee. He lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer. One day a group of hunters stumbled upon Blaise’s cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. As the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, the legend has it, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise’s command the child was able to cough up the bone. The local pagan Governor tried to persuade Blaise to make sacrifices to pagan idols but the brave bishop refused and was beaten. The next time he was asked and refused, St. Blaise was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs. Finally, he was beheaded and martyred for the faith. He is invoked as the patron of throat ailments and so we will bless throats after all Masses this weekend. May St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, intercede for us and our parish!
Also this weekend we celebrated First Confessions for our RE First Communion Class. It is always a great joy to hear Confessions and reconcile sinners with God especially for the first time! It was a great celebration for the Class and their families as not only the students but also their parents and families were able to come forward for Confession. Please pray for these students and their families as they continue to prepare to receive Christ in First Holy Communion.
Father Shemek is very excited that his sister and her family are coming for a visit from Poland next week. They will be spending sometime here in Rhode Island and at Our Lady of Mercy. He doesn’t get to see his family too often, so it will be a great reunion for them. I guess I will have to brush up on my Polish in the coming days so I know what he is telling them about us!
Finally, last week the RI House of Representatives voted 51 to 19 to pass a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage in our state. The bill now moves to the State Senate for consideration and debate. I encourage you to contact your State Senator today and urge them to oppose the bill. You can find out more about the issue and how to contact your elected officials at www.faithfulcitizenri.org I wish to publically offer my thanks and commend Rhode Island State Representatives Antonio Giarrusso from East Greenwich and Doreen Costa from North Kingstown for voting against the bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Despite strong lobbying by a small, well-financed special interest group and intense political pressure from the leadership of the House to vote for the bill, they stayed true to their convictions that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am grateful for their courage and steadfastness in their beliefs. God Bless.