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Bishop’s Corner
February, shortest month of the year, is longest in the popular Catholic lore and cultural observances still recognized by “the world.” If you read your bulletin and remember some of the sermons, you’ll know why. It’s a good thing too, for in so doing you “redeem the time,” sanctifying these holidays and observances, honoring God by remembering their mostly forgotten origins, and reminding others of them too. Talk about an easy way to be an apostle!

Let’s walk through it. They say this month is named for Februa, a pagan Roman festival of purification, connected with the Latin for “I purify by sacrifice.” Think of how the Church purifies pagan festivals by sacrificing, or cutting off, the sinful part, but using the rest. This is a Catholic way to look at the calendar. Think too of the feast of the Purification, February 2nd, ingloriously disguised by the troublesome prophet, the groundhog. Finally, February is a fitting name for the month in which Lent most often begins. This spiritual season (which the world promptly forgets after noting the quaint black forehead smudges of Ash Wednesday) provides an excellent opportunity to be purified by a threefold (three, for the Trinity, February’s indulgenced devotion) sacrifice: prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, or works of charity.

The old Irish used to consider February 1st as the start of Spring, although others waited to prognosticate upon Spring’s arrival based on shadows seen or not:

“If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, winter, have another flight,
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go, winter, and come not again.”

Germans got the groundhog involved, though, after blessed candles were cut out by the Protestants. I think I would prefer those pure white symbols of Christ the Light, Son of the Virgin, sacrificing Himself, to those pesky dahlia-eating marmots. Still, this makes an interesting opening to the month.

February’s high point is surely Saint Valentine’s Day. The Novus Ordo abolished it, but the world loves it yet. Wonderful legends of the saint are told, and charming Valentines sent, but sanctified love is no legend, just a rarity in this pagan world. Next comes Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras. Look them up to be ready before they come as Lent’s vigil. Last of all come the Ashes, that perennial Catholic symbol, humbly but proudly worn on our foreheads, our once-annual Catholic identifier if you don’t count our Mt. Carmel scapulars or Miraculous Medals.

These are all great “Catholic conversation starters.” What you do after that is up to you. Ask the Holy Ghost’s help, and plunge into the conversation. It may lead to a conversion!

Please remember our future priest, Rev. Mr. Stephen McKenna, this week. MC Rich Vande Ryt, Fr. McGuire, Fr. Lehtoranta and I head off to Boston on Friday, to ordain him a priest forever according to the Order of Melchisedech, on Saturday, feast of the Immaculata, Our Lady of Lourdes. Please pray for good weather and all the arrangements to go smoothly. Most of all pray that this young Dominican tertiary may burn bright with Christ’s Light to lead souls to Jesus through Mary and her Rosary.

Thank you for making the Candle Mass so splendid, and the Soup Supper another success! Full report next week.

May Our Lady of the Light shine away all of your darkness!
–Bishop Dolan

PS: I forgot St. Blaise! The Blessing of Throats is known and loved by Catholics, and remembered still. Non-Catholics, though, would need an explanation. Have one ready. “Go you also into my vineyard,” and work!