TODAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY!!! This is a traditional day to celebrate love between spouses, friends, and families. Valentine’s Day traditions go back thousands of years. In our society, it is a day to shower each other with cards, dinner, candy, and other gifts. Obviously, this year, the pandemic has changed everything, but Valentine’s Day is still a day to celebrate in different ways. It is also a day to celebrate the love that Jesus has for us in giving his life so that we can live as a people of new life, love, and hope. In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man with leprosy. Leprosy is a contagious and disfiguring disease. In Jesus’s time, lepers were forced to live on the outskirts of the town so that no one would see or touch them. Yet, Jesus cured the leper as a reminder that he brings the Father’s healing touch to all of us. And it is not just physical healing, but emotional and spiritual healing as well. Jesus’s touch makes us whole, and allows us to continue to live in a right relationship with the Father and each other. Wednesday, February 17, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Please pay attention to two pages in this week’s bulletin. One page addresses the annual regulations for Lent. The other is about the distribution of ashes on Wednesday. Because of the pandemic, ashes cannot be placed your forehead this year. They will be sprinkled on the top of your head. This is how ashes are distributed in Italy and other countries. This directive came from the Vatican through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to Cardinal Tobin. I will explain this today at all the Masses. It is a different way to receive ashes, but it is much safer. The final total for our Christmas Collection is $ 44,352. Our budget was for $48,000.  While our collections have been down from previous years, I am grateful for your consistency in contributing to our parish, given the difficulties of the pandemic. I am proud and privileged to serve as your pastor.  HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!  HAPPY ORDINARY TIME!! FR. JOE

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