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Dear St. Charles Family and Friends in Christ,

This Sunday is “Good Shepherd” Sunday.  In the readings and prayers for this Sunday we get to reflect on what it means when we say that Christ is the “Good Shepherd”.  Jesus says, referring to himself as the shepherd, that “the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.   He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”  This Gospel reminds me of when I began to discern the priesthood – how I began to hear His voice when the scriptures were read at Mass, when the priest gave the homily, and when I took time to pray.  There was something familiar to His voice  – something that resonated with my heart – something that “cut me to the heart” just as it is described in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles when Peter gives his speech at Pentecost.  Recognizing the call of God was a fact that I could not ignore.  I had to do something, and that is what began my active discernment of a priestly vocation.  How did I verify that it was the voice of the Lord?  Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  I could not deny that the more I followed his call, the more “full” my life became.  My heart became more and more satisfied the more time I spent with Him – the more I listened to Him.  It was a satisfaction or fullness that I couldn’t find in other things and the pursuit of “success” as the world defines it.  I understood through my experience what is meant by the well-known Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”

Please join us via our Facebook live stream as we celebrate the Mass this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. (in English) and 12:00 p.m. (in Spanish).  Please follow the Mass on our Parish Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/scbbensalem/ and share this link with family, friends, and other parishioners.  Please also subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSf0XIKmwgRsxkG80ItXrwg to view the Mass posted on YouTube.  Please share the YouTube link with those who do not have Facebook.

The readings for this Sunday can be found here in English: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050320.cfm

or here in Spanish: http://www.usccb.org/bible/lecturas/050320.cfm

This Sunday’s Bulletin is available here: https://www.e-churchbulletins.com/bulletins/511434.pdf

The St. Charles Borromeo Website is the best way to keep up to date with parish news and updates: http://stcharlesbensalem.org

I ask you to take a few moments to pray for priestly vocations this Sunday and also to thank God for the “good shepherds” the Lord has placed in your life – those witnesses through whom you have recognized the presence of Christ and heard his voice.  Spend some time in prayer with the scriptures.  He will speak to a personal word us when we listen with our hearts.  Please also remember and pray for all of our parish children who were planning to receive First Holy Communion this weekend.  We are hoping to celebrate First Holy Communion the first weekend in October.

I invite everyone to join me in a weekly on-line reflection on the Sunday readings.  Please email me at fr.forlano@stcharlesbensalem.org, and I will send you a link to join the on-line meeting through Zoom.  The discussion for men is at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.  The meeting time for women will be determined based on the response.  Please suggest a time (morning, afternoon, or evening).

Pope Francis encourages the faithful throughout the world to pray the rosary each day during the month of May for these intentions: for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the sick, and wisdom for those who work to cure the Coronavirus.  Pope Francis has provided two prayers that can be recited at the end of the rosary. The prayers are available here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/letter-on-the-month-of-may-full-text.html  Meditating on the mysteries of the life of Christ through the eyes of Mary our Mother who said “yes” to God’s word is the best way let God’s word take flesh in our lives.

After the Mass on Sunday, we will pray to the Blessed Mother a decade of the Rosary and renew our consecration to her as we crown the statue of Our Lady in the Grotto.  Please stay tuned after the Mass for this live event that will be transmitted through Facebook.

I ask for your continued financial support of the parish during this time when we cannot gather for Mass.  I am very grateful for the generosity of the many people who have maintained their weekly offering or given even more at this time.  If you have not already done so, please become an on-line donor using our electronic giving service accessed here: https://scbbensalem.churchgiving.com  Those who prefer not to give on-line, please mail your offering envelope to the rectory or drop it through the mail slot in the front door of the rectory office.  No gift is too small.  Every gift makes a difference.

Many in our community are enduring financial hardships because of the crisis.  If you would like to make a special gift to support the needy in the parish, please note that on your donation.  Scrip cards for local supermarkets will be purchased with the donations and distributed to those in need.  We are also accepting non-perishable food items for our food pantry.  Please use the bins in the Guadalupe Chapel to drop off a food donation.

Recognizing the need for many to find a quiet place to pray and to get out of the house, starting Monday, May 4, St. Charles Borromeo Church will be open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for private prayer.

May we take the time to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd!  Everything changes when we hear his voice.  Then we can say with the Psalmist, “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.”

In Communion,

Fr. Forlano

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