My Dear Parishioners,
On Wednesday February 17th we will celebrate Ash Wednesday. We will have Masses at 8:00 a.m, 5:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. All 3 Masses will have the distribution of ashes. This year the Archdiocese has issued a change in the way that ashes are distributed to comply with current COVID precautions. We will offer ashes this year by sprinkling them on the head of the individual worshipper. This is actually the way ashes are usually distributed in many European nations. This manner avoids skin to skin contact. It also avoids contamination from repeated use of a stamp or other instrument. Unfortunately it does not provide the black cross on the forehead that so many of us are used to. Please remember to keep a reasonable social distance when approaching for ashes, just like when coming up for Holy Communion. Ash Wednesday is the official start to the Lenten Season, which is a period of preparation or purification. It is a time when we reflect on what needs to change in our life. Lent is the traditional time to give something up, or to do some additional charitable work or good deed. Fasting (or giving something up) is one way to make ourselves aware of what needs to change in our lives. We fill up our lives with so much excess that often we leave little or no room for God. Fasting clears out space for God to come in. The temptation, once we have created the space will be to fill it with something else, the challenge will be to let that empty space just be and allow God to fill it if He chooses. Fasting is also a way to build the discipline required to live the Christian life, especially in our modern world. It helps us make the difficult or challenging choice; it also helps us grow in our relationship with God. Some people think of discipline as some sort of punishment because it keeps you from doing what you want. A different way to think about it is that discipline helps you to discern what is truly good and it strengthens your will as well.
St. Joseph will continue the practice of offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation every Wednesday in Lent, starting February 24th from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. I will be hearing confessions in the sacristy, where there is a larger space that permits greater air circulation. I will be wearing a mask, and you are asked to do the same. These Lenten confessions are in addition to the regular Saturday afternoon confessions from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. You might also consider coming to morning Mass at 8:00 a.m. during the week. Or perhaps you can come to church on Mondays when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed from 8:30 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. We will also have Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. Included with Stations we will have benediction, that is, the blessing of the community with Jesus present in the Eucharist. I hope you all have a spiritually fruitful Lent. Archbishop Perez has asked that the following letter be communicated to the parishes in advance of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa collection. This collection will take place next weekend at St. Joseph.
May God Bless You,
February 17, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa was founded on the basic principles of Saint John Paul II’s call to action in Ecclesia in Africa and the adoption of the statement A Call to Solidarity with Africa from the Bishops of the United States.
Africa faces the economic and social hurdles of enormous debt, epidemics, severe poverty, and political unrest. In spite of these challenges, Catholicism is flourishing amid these harsh circumstances.
Your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa assists in the delivery of basic pastoral care which includes religious education, seminary formation and youth ministry. It also supports important projects such as pastoral care for the sick.
The collection for the Church in Africa will be conducted in your parish on a weekend during Lent as determined by your Pastor. On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Africa, I am grateful for your continued generosity.
Gratefully and with best wishes in Jesus Christ,
+Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez, D.D.
Archbishop of Philadelphia