4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 31, 2021

I.  Focus for life: Resolution #3—Comfort the Afflicted:  Listening skills can go along way to “lift up“ someone who is worried, grieving, anxious, or depressed. During these pandemic times, give them a call, send them a card or a text message, and if you are able, send a little care package. One tiny moment of support could be the turning point for someone suffering emotionally. A Corporal Work of Mercy takes some preparation and effort, but the results can be monumental. In perspective, Jesus prepared 30 years before he began His public ministry leading up to His suffering, death and resurrection. We can work in a moment to reach out with a card or a call. Especially during this time when many people feel isolated and lonely, we all have the responsibility to find creative ways to connect with others. I was inspired by the Saint Stephen parishioners who took the time to send Christmas cards to those in nursing homes, the homebound, and the sick. Your thoughtfulness made a difference!

II.  Catholic Schools Week, January 31-February 6, 2021:  We continue the five year theme: “Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” Our Owensboro Catholic Schools benefit all year round from the religious guidance, prayers, and the support parishes provide; of course, our parish benefits from the parish involvement of these families. Saint Stephen Cathedral is proud that we have approximately 100 parish families in our Catholic Schools K-12. I thank parents for your decision and sacrifice. In addition to Sunday Mass, Catholic school parents are asked to serve in parish ministry, to ensure their older children (middle school upward) are also involved in some parish ministry, to be “good PR” for recruiting (over 95% of our parents are “happy” or “very happy” with our Catholic schools), and to observe sacrificial giving (our Cathedral parish contributes $2700 for each student enrolled); if you if you have chosen Catholic schools in the past four years we ask that you give electronically through WeShare. It’s about faith! A big “shout out” of gratitude to all parishioners for your unfailing support of this significant ministry. 

III. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is an echo of the past Christmas season and the completion of the mystery. Jesus—born, revealed to Israel, manifested to the nations—is now encountered by the Church in the persons of Simeon and Anna. Indeed, Greek Christians call today’s feast “The Meeting” or “The Encountering.” This feast is rooted in every day life. Faithful to the observance of the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the temple to consecrate Him to the Lord. There they meet the faithful Simeon and the prophetess Anna, for whom temple worship was part of every day life. Simeon’s song announcing that he has seen God’s salvation in the child Jesus, and the actions of the prophetess, Anna, giving thanks to God and testifying about the child to those who awaited Jerusalem’s redemption, form the heart of today’s Gospel. Can you find the stained glass window in our church depicted this Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary?

IV.  Blessing of Candles (an optional tradition) will take place at both 7:00am and 12:05pm (noon) Masses on Tuesday, February 2nd. In fact, the Mass begins with the blessing of candles for liturgical and home use, reminding the faithful of the Baptism that enlightened us. The candle, an important sacramental in our Church tradition, signifies Jesus being THE Light of the World, driving out darkness, lightening our way, pouring out/giving up His life for us. We invite you to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. We pray that all the Simeons and Annas of the world—the elderly, widows, and widowers—may be granted honor and respect. Furthermore, we pray that the Church may continue to embody Christ’s presence in all her words and actions, bearing the light of Christ to all.

V.  The Feast of Saint Blaise: Wednesday, February 3rd, is another optional tradition. As our throats are blessed (in a non-pandemic year) with candles from the Presentation liturgy, we ask ourselves how faithfully we give voice bearing witness to the challenging Gospel messages. We pray that we be spared from illnesses of the throat, as well as words that detract, diminish, deflate, tear down, divide, (including the sins of calumny/detraction), and all gossip and cursing. May our voices be used to build up others and glorify God! This year, priests will use the blessing formula as a prayer over the people.

VI.  Cathedral Pre-School Registration: our Pre-School is the best—it has a FIVE STAR rating from the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the capable direction of Pam Weafer (who will be retiring after this current school year after many years of selfless service) and her competent team of teachers and aides, who create a “loving and caring environment.” Registration will begin February 1st. Saint Stephen Cathedral members and current preschool families, that register within the first week, will have first choice of class placement. Please register at cathedralpreschool.com. Our goal is to “get the children ready for school. . .so that in kindergarten they will be ahead of the game, have a leg-up.”  For class choices and prices, or for more information about the programs offered, including our “wrap around” before and after school care, visit cathedralpreschool.com or call 270-926-1652.