Looking Ahead to Ash Wednesday and Lent

01-15-2021Letters From Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

Although our Church in our Liturgical Year has returned to “Ordinary Time” after the Christmas Season, this present “time” is in fact extraordinary for all of us. We continue to face the Pandemic, and in addition in our Town of Franklin we are a Red Zone, and also we are all reeling and reacting to the great tumult and upset in Washington DC with the riot and siege of the Capitol Building with the unfortunate deaths and desecration of our many national signs and symbols.

Our national leadership in its many elected and appointed positions have left us bewildered, hurt, angry or confused; in truth we all have many of the emotions. What I am absolutely certain of is that we all must pray faithfully and daily for our nation, for peace and stability and for many people to surrender their ideological positons and their yelling and begin to start to listen and then talk. Prayer is first and essential, an open heart and mind are next on the list, followed by good ears to listen, then a mind to reflect on what is heard and learned, then some more time praying, then maybe say something. I always remind myself that “we walk by faith.”

I must remark upon the many emails and written notes that express people’s great appreciation for all that was done for Christmas Eve and Morning continue to arrive here at the Rectory and in my email. Thank you for recognizing how hard everyone worked to offer a spiritual experience for everyone for Christmas. Our many choices allowed people to celebrate this Birth of Our Savior with warm and faith filled hearts.

It is scary to say that Fr. Jack and I have been working on possibilities for Ash Wednesday and Lent 2021 since well before Christmas. As those who plan work events or family events, they know one needs a long lead time to get everything to the best possible shape. With this Pandemic, we are always trying to provide various options to help people participate as best as they are able in light of COVID Restrictions.

Ash Wednesday is Wednesday, February 16, 2021, just 4 weeks away. We are planning to offer Mass with the Distribution of Ashes in the main church at 7:00am and 7:00pm and at 12:00-12:45pm we will offer “walk up” Ashes outside at the Rocco Plaza Door entrance. To attend Mass, it is necessary to pre-register (this will be on our website in one week). Outside ashes require no pre-registration as you will not enter the building, nor will you be able to linger outside.

We will start Daily Monday-Friday Morning Mass at 7:00am with Ash Wednesday. This Mass will be 5 days a week, Monday to Friday. To attend, you must sign in when you arrive at the Chapel with your name and phone number and after Mass, you must “mist” the area you sat in with the organic, hypoallergenic purifying solution in the spray bottle at the wooden doors. We are launching this Mass based on the condition that the attendees take responsibility for himself or herself to register upon entering and also for cleansing their area after Mass. The priest will be alone in the sanctuary, no Lector, Server or Eucharistic Minister. Remember if either Fr. Jack or I develop COVID, this can close the church building and Parish down for a minimum of two weeks.

I have asked Deacon Stephen May, our Pastoral Associate to prepare a Lenten Adult Spirituality Series to be available via Zoom/Webinar for all Parishioners with a special emphasis for those who are part of the Ministries of the Parish (although with COVID maybe not actively engaged). More details etc. will be rolled out in the coming weeks for all of you. This letter is meant to alert you of what is coming. There is no means to offer Stations of the Cross from our Church (we do not have a traveling camera) and so I encourage you to watch them on CathlicTV.org. Catholic TV is always a great source of spiritual enrichment for all of us.

Your continued response to assisting the Saint Vincent’s in their service to the needy, frail and poor is very impressive. I also deeply appreciate your constant financial support of our Holy Work and Mission by your online giving, mail in or drop in at the Rectory envelopes. We are able to continue, and in quiet ways start to re-building the faith life of our Parish Community because of your support. Thank you.

For we are a parish dedicated to Mary, let us ask our Mary, the Mother of God to intercede with Her Son for our nation. We know Saint Rocco brings us grace and healing as he intercedes in the heavenly court. Prayer should be our first action and also our last.

God bless
Father Brian