Next Sunday: First Sunday of Lent Fr. Tharp
Ash Wednesday February 17
This year (2021) COVID has even impacted the distribution of ashes. We are not permitted to distribute ashes on the forehead. The only procedure allowed is to sprinkle ashes over the top of the head. The following is the directive from Rome:
The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.
Therefore, since ashes are “sprinkled” without words, ONLY those who want the ashes in their hair should come forward. Remember, I am not allowed to touch your forehead or even your hair.
During Lent, Catholics are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays during Lent, and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence simply means “abstaining from meat.” The flesh of mammals and birds (essentially any animal that is warm blooded) is considered meat. The flesh of reptiles, fish (cold blooded), bird “eggs” and cheese are not considered meat. The chicken itself is warm blooded and thus is considered meat. Anyone fourteen years of age or older who will not be physically harmed by the diet is asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays during Lent.
We define fasting for Lenten purposes as meaning eating only one regular meal and two smaller meals or snacks, with no eating between meals. Fasting only applies on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and then only to those between the ages of 18 and 59 who have no medical problem aggravated by the practice.
Sometimes people like to “give up” something as a self-imposed penance during Lent. It is also possible to “do something” as a Lenten practice. I will have Stations of the Cross and Benediction (with all proper social distancing) at St. Ann on the Friday evenings of Lent at 7:00 p.m. (Good Friday of Holy Week is different) and Stations of the Cross during Lent on Sunday Afternoons at Sacred Heart at 3:00 p.m. (Palm Sunday excluded)
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati asks every parish to do its part to fund essential programs and services in the Archdiocese that are beyond the capacity of any individual parish or pastoral region, but can be funded if all the parishes pool their resources and provide the services on a diocesan-wide basis. The “fair share” target that has been set by the Archdiocese for St. Ann is $21,210. Please prayerfully reflect on the mailed materials which you should have already received in the mail. Please consider your commitment. If you did not receive the mailing from the Archbishop, there will be plenty of additional pledge cards and envelopes available at the church doors.
Basketball versus Parking for Saturday Evening Mass
As you know, I have the 4:00 p.m. Mass every Saturday at Sacred Heart and then rush to St. Ann to have the 5:15 p.m. Mass. It is not infrequent during good weather, and on days when there is no wedding at 2:00 p.m.; that upon my arrival at St. Ann at about 5:05 to 5:15 p.m. the local youth are playing basketball on the parking lot. We have a sign that says “No basketball during Mass times” on the side of the stand-alone garage. I will either ask them to leave or I will ask them to play half court so that at least some cars can park in the area. Gaining compliance has proven to be very difficult, and by the time I arrive almost all St. Ann cars are already parked, or have left because there is no parking. Asking the basketball people to leave by the time I get there is too late. I think resolution may require hiring an off duty police officer or sheriff deputy to correct the situation. I will keep you informed.
Moral implications of COVID-19 Vaccines
Some have accused the Catholic Church of moral duplicity in its teaching regarding abortion and the use of fetal cells harvested from aborted babies in the development and testing of vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine. The USCCB website cited below reports the following: One of the three pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine apparently did use a compromised cell line in design, development or production, but it would seem that the other two did not. Later confirmatory tests applied to this vaccine manufactured by the three companies may have used the compromised HEK293 cell line.
The entire document is available on the USCCB.org website at: https://www.usccb.org/moral-considerations-covid-vaccines.
The following statement from page 5 of the referenced document seems to sum up the advice of the USCCB regarding the moral issue associated with the vaccines. It reads, “In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.”
Communion on the Tongue
Please remember as I stated in recent articles, until the threat of COVID is over; if you wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, you must come to me (Fr. Tharp) ONLY and you must be sure you are at the end of my line. Please do not present yourselves to Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers for communion on the tongue! If on Sundays, you see that I am going to be at St. Ann, then you must come to St. Ann that Sunday if you want to receive ONLY on the tongue. I am not willing to ask Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers to take a risk with which they are uncomfortable. Be assured, I will follow all the protocols necessary to administer on the tongue safely.
Live Streaming a precept Mass from St. Ann and Sacred Heart each week
Please remember to access the Sacred Heart / St. Ann Pastoral Region youtube site by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg
Reflection on Scripture: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings from Sacred Scripture are about doing what is socially acceptable according to your culture and your time. The first reading from Leviticus suggests that only one of the priests should make a diagnosis of leprosy, and impose quarantine. (Remember this is before the practice of modern medicine.) It was felt that a religious liturgical practitioner would make the most objective medical analysis. In First Corinthians, St. Paul says that it is an act of charity to adhere to good manners as defined, not by your sensitivities, but by the culture of those around you. In the gospel, Jesus heals the leper and then says (paraphrased), “Don’t make a big deal about this. Just take the steps your culture suggests.” Instead, the healed leper tells everyone what Jesus asked him to keep secret. Jesus did not ask this out of humility! He asked to keep it quiet because it caused people to want to see a healing show from Jesus rather than listening to the gospel.
The readings remind us that we must be cordial, compassionate, and socially proper if we wish to be beacons of faith. Nevertheless cordiality and propriety are never to serve as an excuse for deception or lying. We must tell the truth kindly and gently; but we must tell the truth. After all, that is what Jesus did!
Next Week: First Sunday of Lent
1 Pt 3:18-22