Dear Parishioners,

In one sense, the Book of Leviticus (13:1-2, 44-46) presents a harsh picture of the isolation that is caused by the threat of contagious illness. The legal prescription that the afflicted person must present themselves to the priest is meant to be a safeguard for the person so that others might not claim, in any legitimate way, that another is “unclean”. It is also the role of the priest to declare that a person is “clean”.  The “priest” is not to be afraid of the illness, but rather to be the caretaker of both the “healthy” community and the “afflicted” individual. It is a role that both separated and restored. “Jesus the Priest” heals and restores the leper (Mk 1:40-45) who cries out to Him.

Biblical events and situations might be perceived as a “thing of the past”, but today we no less fear contamination. Perhaps we even fear it more! We get unnerved (justifiably) by the news of the outbreak of diseases that we long though were eradicated. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizers have become common place nearly everywhere we go! Fear changes our behavioral patterns and often causes a deep sense of isolation. No less today do we need to hear the comforting word of  Jesus the Priest who makes us whole, makes us healthy, and makes us one with His holy people.

Good Friday’s Solemn Intercession “For those in Tribulation” seems so fitting in light of today’s readings:

Let us pray, dearly beloved, to God the Father almighty, that he may cleanse the world of all errors, banish disease, drive out hunger, unlock prisons, loosen fetters, granting to travelers safety, to pilgrims return, health to the sick, and salvation to the dying.

Almighty ever-living God, comfort of mourners, strength of all who toil, may the prayers of those who cry out in any tribulation come before you, because in their hour of need your mercy was at hand.

Today we begin Our Catholic Appeal. Our assessments for this year are $266,512 for Blessed Sacrament and $13,018 for Santo Toribio Romo. I thank you in advance for your generous support of the Diocese and I encourage those who have never had the opportunity to pledge in the past to please assist us in our goal for the coming year.

On Wednesday we begin the Season of Lent. Ashes will be distributed at all of the Liturgies which will be celebrated on that day following the Gospel Reading and Homily. Masses will be celebrated at 8:30am, 5:00pm and 7:00pm. In addition to the Masses on that day, there will be Liturgies of the Word celebrated at 6:00am and at Noon. Ash Wednesday is a day of both fasting and of abstinence from the eating of meat.

I have heard that “The Best Little Thrift Shop” is in the process of closing. While this was not a ministry of Blessed Sacrament Church, they have been gracious over the years in assisting us with our “Outward Sign” ministry. “Outward Sign” is alive and well and we began transitioning its functions back to the parish office in March of last year. In addition, our “Backpack” ministry is continuing to do very well as we provide nourishment for children in the Mascotte and Groveland areas. Thank you to all who support these wonderful parish ministries.

May the week ahead be filled with countless graces and blessings!

Fr. Bob


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