I am happy to announce that Margaret Sweeney, our parish’s Director of Music, has joined the office staff! Now – even though Nancy Sweeney (no relation) is away for the wintertime – the parish office will be open from 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. on Mondays and Tuesdays, when Maria Schirduan is at the front desk, and additionally on Fridays, when Margaret is on duty.
As with everything else, this pandemic is altering even the most time-honored traditions, including some of Christianity’s devotions and sacramental signs.
For centuries, the Memorial of Saint Blaise has been celebrated with crossed candles held under the throat of the Christian faithful and the invocation pronounced, “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, Bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness.” The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued guidance this year, suggesting for sufficient pastoral reason that “a priest or deacon may give the blessing to all assembled by extending hands, without the crossed candles, over the people while saying the prayer of blessing.” As such, a communal blessing will be extended to the entire assembly following each of the Masses on the weekend of January 30 and 31, this instead of blessing of throats on the actual Memorial of Saint Blaise on Wednesday, February 3.
Additionally, the Holy See has issued a provisional norm in this time of pandemic for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The Congregation for Divine Worship directs that the formula, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” is addressed to all present and said only once, then “the priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.” This practice has been an option in the Church since the twelfth century. (Another option is provided that consists of imposing ashes on the forehead of each person by using a ball of cotton.)
Finally, I hope you will welcome again Fr. Gerry Bertin, who will be covering at St. Joseph’s during the week of February 1 while I attend a conference and subsequently gather with my family to celebrate Christmas!
With prayers for your good health and happiness,
Fr. John Mahoney