Dear Parishioners,

This weekend is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Forty days after Jesus was born, in accordance with the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord. What they could not have known is that two elderly inhabitants of the temple, Simeon and Anna, recognize in the six-week-old child the Savior of the World. As we celebrate this special feast this weekend, may we challenge ourselves to recognize Jesus in the face of those we meet. Please note that there will be a procession at the beginning of the 9:30 A.M. Mass.  Weather permitting we will meet outside.  Otherwise, we will meet “down the main hall” of School.

Next weekend will be the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. During these days in the middle of winter, when the nights are long, and sunshine can be scarce, we realize the value of the sun. It brightens our day and our mood. It gives life, warmth, and light. The light of Christ can do the same. With the light of Christ we can bring light of the darkness in our world: injustice, violence, fear, poverty, and countless other shadows. May the Light of Christ shine forth wherever we go and whatever we do!

Saint Blaise Day: Tomorrow, Monday, February 3, is Saint Blaise Day. There is a LONG tradition of blessing throats on that day. We will have the blessing of throats during the 6:30 A.M. Mass and there will be a special prayer service, with the blessing of throats, at 9:00 A.M. tomorrow (Monday) morning. All of our school children will be present and all other parishioners are also invited to attend and receive this Sacramental.

Returning your old palm: Ash Wednesday this year is on Wednesday, February 26. Beginning next weekend there will be containers at each entrance of church for you to bring back your “old palm” to be burned to be ashes for Ash Wednesday. Weather permitting there will be a prayer service at 2:15 P.M. on Monday, February 24, with our school children attending, when we will burn the palm to get the ashes ready for use on Ash Wednesday. (If you recall we were unable to do the service on either Monday or Tuesday last year because of the bad weather!) If the weath- er is bad (too windy, rain, or snow on Monday), the “make-up date” will be Tuesday, February 25, also at 2:15 P.M.

Gavin Lain and Kobe Bryant: Thanks to ALL who have been praying for our 8th grade student, Gavin Lain, in his recovery from an accidental gunshot wound suffered on Friday, January 24th. Special thanks to all who attended the special prayer service, including the Rosary, last Tuesday night. Please continue to pray for Gavin, his parents, brothers, and all the family. Visitors are still not allowed, but prayers are MOST welcome. There is a “Caring Bridge” page established for Gavin. It is there that the latest medical reports will be posted. If you are an NBA fan, or perhaps just a sports’ fan in general, certainly the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others last Sunday is certainly tragic. Perhaps most of us didn’t know that Mr. Bryant was a practicing Catholic. It is interesting to note that he and his daughter had attended the 7:00 A.M. Holy Mass, and received Holy Communion last Sunday, at his parish in Orange County, California. They had a basketball game many miles away and had to get to the airport to get the helicopter flight, but their PRIORITY was attending Mass first. There is a WONDERFUL lesson there for all of us: Mass is a priority.  If you “easily excuse” yourself from the attendance at Holy Mass on a Sunday, think about this “superstar” and the importance he gave to going to Mass before going to the game.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network: As you know the “Apostleship of Prayer” has ceased printing the yearly intentions leaflet from the Pope. So, as I have told you, each month I will remind you of the Pope’s Intention and provide a reflection that was given to us by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. This month the intention is: Listen to the Migrants’ Cries.

The monthly reflection, written by Saint Louis’s own Father Joseph Laramie, SJ, is as follows:

Knock, knock. “Who’s there?”

This is a familiar format for a children’s riddle. You knock, I ask, you reply.

It’s based on a simple action– someone knocks on my door and I ask, “Who is it?” Is this a stranger? A friend? A criminal? Who is knocking?

We’re right to be curious. And it’s ok to ask questions. But should we automatically be suspicious? What if this is a friend, or someone who needs my help?

This February, Pope Francis asks us to hear the cries of migrants. After all, we shouldn’t bolt the door until we know who is knocking, right? He writes, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected

strangers of every age” (Pope Francis, Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees). After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with their child. They escape from

King Herod who searches for the child “to destroy him” [Matt 2:13]. After this danger passes, the Holy Family returns to their homeland. They were refugees only temporarily. Perhaps they knocked on an unfamiliar door seeking shelter. Imagine Joseph offering to work in exchange for food and housing. Knock, knock. “Who’s there?

Modern migration is a complex issue. A humane response requires compassion, wisdom, and cooperation from citizens, churches, police, and government leaders. If we shut our ears and lock the doors of our hearts, then we will never hear the cries of the poor seeking protection and opportunity. Jesus says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Who is knocking at our door? How will we respond?

“Ordination Banns” for Mr. William G. Smith. (Although printed and announced last week, it is required that we do this for two weeks in a row.) Canon 1029: “After all circumstances have been taken into account in the prudent judgment of the proper bishop or the competent major superior, only those should be promoted to Orders who have an integral faith, are motivated by a right intention, and proven virtues, and other physical and psychological qualities which are appropriate to the order to be received.” This canon makes it clear that being ordained a Deacon is not about fulfilling require- ments, it is an integrated lifestyle of love for Jesus Christ and of service to the Church.  Following the age-old custom of the Church, as maintained by Canon Law (Canon 1051, paragraph 2), it is my privilege to announce publicly that Mr. William G. Smith is a candidate for the Major Order of the Sacred Diaconate, to be conferred on June 6, 2020, at 10:00 A.M. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Anyone who know any reason why this candidate should not be ordained is bound to disclose this immediately. Please join me in prayer for Mr. Smith for ordination will be times of extraordinary grace and abiding peace.

Faithfully yours,

Fr Joe Weber