November 26, 2023

It is not very exciting to debate when the Church Year should begin or end, especially since ending and beginning themes seem to sound alike and to flow into each other. But there is a Sunday when we come to the end of one year’s reading of a specific Gospel and turn our attention to another. That Sunday happens to be today as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

“The Lord tells us: ‘the first task in life is this: prayer.’ But not the prayer of words, like a parrot;  but the prayer, the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord.”

Pope Francis

Today we conclude our reading from the Gospel of Matthew, which we began last Advent. Week after week, we have been journeying through this Gospel and have heard it proclaimed in almost its entirety. Next week, on the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new Church Year. We will change cycles in our Sunday Scripture readings and begin reading from the Gospel of Mark for a year. Mark’s picture of the person of Jesus will unfold before us.

On this final Sunday in November, we continue our prayerful month-long remembrance of those who have gone before us in faith. Our parish Book of Remembrance at the front of the Church near the Baptistery and the Easter Candle remind us of our commitment to pray for the dead. Throughout this month, we continue our prayerful remembrance of those who now live with God. You are welcome to add additional names of your beloved dead in the Book of Remembrance during these final days of the month. May God welcome them into his glory.

With Christmas Day falling on a Monday this year, we will experience the shortest Advent season possible. The Fourth Week of Advent is only one day long – Sunday, Christmas Eve! And then mid-afternoon, our Christmas Eve Vigil Masses will begin as Advent gives way to Christmas. Since the season is so short, all the more reason to enter Advent as best as we can next Sunday. The season will be over before we know it and gone will be the opportunities to recognize and see the Lord present among us in our day-to-day activities. Let us make a commitment to each other that we will enter this new season and new year as best we can and take time to listen for the voice of the Lord in the activities of the season.

With the season of Advent beginning next Sunday, we have Bishop Ken Untener’s “The Little Blue Book” for the Advent and Christmas Seasons 2023-2024 available this weekend. These “Little Books” give us a wonderful guide in our personal, individual daily prayer throughout the major seasons of the Church Year. This year’s book for Advent and Christmas gives us six-minute daily reflections on the Infancy Narratives of Luke. The six-minute program begins on December 3rd, the First Sunday of Advent. These books – in both English and Spanish – are available in the Narthex. We also have additional resources to assist our personal prayer during the upcoming Advent/Christmas seasons.

We are very happy to welcome Joliet seminarian Abel Luviano to our parish community this weekend. He will be speaking at all Masses, telling us his vocation story and thanking us for our support earlier this month of the Diocese of Joliet’s “I Will Give you Shepherds” campaign for the Seminarian Education Endowment Trust. His story can be found on the cover of the bulletin. I thank you in advance for your hospitality in welcoming him to our parish.

We complete another Church Liturgical Year in fine form. As we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, this weekend, we thank God for all of the blessings that we have experienced this past year and look forward to what lies ahead. We pray that God may continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy