Dear friends in Christ,
This weekend marks our final Sunday of Ordinary Time before we begin our 40-day journey of Lent. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday, Feb. 10. Recall that Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation but it is an important day for us as we begin Lent with our foreheads marked. It’s a call to conversion and a sign of our mortality – “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
We will have six liturgies on Ash Wednesday. We begin with a 6:30 a.m. Liturgy of the Word service for those on the way to work or school. We will only have one Mass on Ash Wednesday at 9 a.m. We will have additional Liturgy of the Word services (all with distribution of ashes) at 12 noon, 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. All services will be in the church. There are no confessions on Wednesday nor an evening Mass. Ash Wednesday is also a day of fast and abstinence from meat, and all Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence. See elsewhere in the bulletin for the guidelines for fasting and abstinence and an additional Lenten calendar of events.
We are once again participating in CRS Rice Bowl for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) during Lent. We’ll distribute the bowls on Ash Wednesday and we encourage you to make it a family penitential practice. Collect your extra change (perhaps that you saved from what you “gave up”) during the 40 days and return it at Easter to support CRS throughout the world.
With the beginning of Lent we resume our Friday fish dinners sponsored by our Knights of Columbus Council 8771. Every Friday during Lent, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., the Knights serve a delicious fish dinner in the Parish Hall. For only $8 ($5 for children) you get your choice of baked or fried fish or shrimp, three side dishes, dessert and a drink. These fish dinners are unmatched in the Archdiocese. They serve upwards of 1,300 dinners a night, but the line moves quickly so come early and bring your family and friends. You can also get your meal to go if you like. My thanks to the Knights for their great work on behalf of the parish.
Also following the Lent fish dinners every Friday we will have Stations of the Cross in the church beginning at 7 p.m. I hope many of you will want to spend 30 minutes on Friday nights with this popular Lenten devotion. I especially recommend it to those families with young children. It’s a great way to spend a Friday evening – come for dinner and stay for Stations. The church will also be open on Friday mornings in Lent following daily Mass for those who don’t want to be out at night.
As I mentioned last week, this weekend we kick-off our 2016 Diocesan Services Fund drive. The DSF raises funds to support the more than 60 ministries that no one parish on its own could ever accomplish, but that collectively we can all support to bring God’s love to all people. Most of these ministries operate behind the scenes and we don’t think about them because we just assume that the Church does them, but it can only be done through your support. Areas of support include:
Teaching, Evangelizing and Worship: This includes, among others, the Apostleship of the Sea (every ship that comes into the Port of Houston is visited by a Catholic chaplain); the Catholic Schools Office, Young Adult and Campus Ministry (to engage college-age Catholics in the faith) the Texas Catholic Herald newspaper (which you receive free of charge with a donation to DSF) and the CCE office (our children at CtR directly benefit from this as all our R.E. staff attends workshops and training offered by the CCE office).
Ministering to the Poor, Sick and Incarcerated: A Catholic chaplain is assigned to every hospital in the Texas Medical Center to provide spiritual care to the sick. Every Catholic that requests to see a priest while in the hospital has access 24 hours a day in their time of need. The Archdiocese also runs programs to bring pastoral and sacramental aid to the disadvantaged, the disabled, and those in need of God’s healing grace. Whether comforting refugees or battered women, those in a prison cell or in a hospital bed, these ministries show God’s mercy to those on the margins of society.
Promoting, Preparing and Supporting the Clergy: By training our seminarians and deacon candidates, the DSF helps guide the future clergy of the Archdiocese. We also directly benefit from it at CtR by its support of Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, a leadership training program for priests. Both Fr. Ralph and I are graduates of that program and Fr. Sebastine is currently enrolled in it. We can testify that it alone is worthy of your support of DSF.
Nurturing and Strengthening Families: Perhaps in no other area do we benefit from the generosity of DSF at CtR than in the support it offers our families. The Family Life Office works directly with a number of our couples preparing for marriage. It hosts Engaged Encounter and prepares couples married civilly to have their marriages regulated in the Church. It runs the St. Dominic Village retirement home for older adults, as well as an assisted living facility with a nursing home and special care unit for those with dementia. It also supports the work of the Tribunal to assist individuals with decrees of nullity so they may marry in the Church. And of course our active Youth Ministry program benefits greatly from the many retreats, conferences and workshops put on by the Archdiocese.
That’s just a small sampling of the many programs we offer through DSF. You are part of them when you make your pledge to DSF. It is the work of the Lord done directly in your name through DSF. Those ministries can only happen through our support. The thing I love about the DSF is that 100 percent of all money pledged goes directly to support ministries and programs. Administration and salaries are covered by the Chancery. Your support of DSF will go directly to helping people encounter the mercy of God. Isn’t that what it is all about? That’s why I always say that it is an honor, not a burden, to be asked to support the work of DSF.
Our goal this year at CtR is $307,000. We always strive for 100 percent participation from all of our nearly 6,500 families. If we all gave just a little we would make our goal easily. The average pledge is usually around $300. Could you please consider giving that amount again this year? Or maybe make a pledge of $365 — a dollar a day to support those great ministries. Any amount that we exceed our goal is returned to us 50 percent (the other 50 percent goes to help inner-city parishes in need), so it’s a real win-win for us and the Archdiocese.
We’ll complete our pledge cards together this week. You can pay in one sum with a check, or make monthly or quarterly payments on your credit card. Please prayerfully consider what you will pledge and let’s do our part so that God’s mercy may endure forever through the good work of our Diocesan Services Fund.
Fr. Seanread more »
Dear friends in Christ,
As I previewed for you last week, we are happy to kick-off Catholic Schools Week today. You’ll see a great number of our school kids at all the Masses this weekend. They’ve got a host of activities planned for the week, not the least of which is the Open House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 4, which is open to everyone. Please spread the word to family and friends who may not be members of CtR but who nonetheless may be looking for a new school option for their children in grades Pre-K through 7th. Above all I ask you to pray for our school at CtR. Catholic schools have a long tradition in our country and contribute so much to the life of the local church. It is a wonderful gift to our community, and in less than two years CtR Catholic School has truly made an impact on us all.read more »
Dear friends in Christ,
We have now returned to Ordinary Time in the liturgical life of the Church, but not for long. We have just a few weeks in this interim period between the end of the season of Christmas and the beginning of the season of Lent. Don’t blink or you will miss it – Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10. With the Christmas décor put away for another year, and before we begin our desert journey of 40 days let’s resolve to grow in our faith.read more »
Dear friends in Christ,
Today is the final day of the liturgical season of Christmas and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a remembrance of the day of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River at the hands of John the Baptist. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to recall our own baptism and what happened to us on that day.read more »
Dear friends in Christ,
Happy New Year! Fr. Ralph, Fr. Sebastine and the staff of Christ the Redeemer join me in wishing you a blessed new year. I trust you all survived all the excitement of the Christmas holidays. Of course that excitement still continues. Remember that Christmas is far from over. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Just as the wise men from the East long ago journeyed to see the newborn child Jesus, we too are called to do Him homage as well. Where do we see God manifested in our world today? How do others see Christ manifested in us? Let the spirit of the newborn Prince of Peace continue to reign in your heart. The liturgical season of Christmas will conclude next week with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.read more »