December 10, 2023

On this second Sunday of December, we mark the Second Sunday of Advent. As we move into the heart of this very short season in the Church Year, the figure of John the Baptist steps into the spotlight. His preaching to prepare a straight path for the Lord and to turn from our sins becomes the focus of these middle weeks of Advent.

I suspect for many of us, the Advent challenge is to truly clear that straight path for the coming of the Lord – not just on Christmas, but today and each day that we live. Pope Francis recently said, “Whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.” The tremendous amount of activity during the month of December is a major obstacle. We are busier this month than we are during most months. It is difficult to recognize the simple, everyday “comings” of the Lord all around us. Some of us are using the devotional “Little Blue Book” for the Advent and Christmas Seasons 2023-24 as a guide in our efforts to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.” Others are attending our weekday Mass at 7:00 am or 12:05 pm. Others are taking advantage of our Eucharistic Adoration Chapel and are here for 15, 30 or 60 minutes of quiet, personal prayer. Still others are taking additional prayer times during the day. Whatever our practice, taking a few minutes for quiet, personal prayer each day can help us recognize the Lord’s presence all around us and especially in those simple everyday “comings” of the Lord.

Advent is one of those ideal times to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our regular times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are on Saturdays following the 8:15 am Mass from 8:45-10:00 am. We have added additional Reconciliation times on the Fridays of Advent (December 15 & 22) following the 7:00 am Mass from 7:30-8:30 am. Our Advent Reconciliation Service will be held on Wednesday, December 13 at 7:00 pm, and we will have additional priests with us. We will have additional reconciliation times next week following our daily Masses on Thursday and Friday.   

Retired and aging religious need our help. This weekend is the annual Retirement Fund for Religious national appeal. Thousands of senior sisters, brothers and religious order priests spent years working in Catholic schools, hospitals, and agencies – often for little pay. Their sacrifices leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and eldercare. Since they were not permitted in the Social Security system until 1972, their average Social Security benefit is about 60% less than other American citizens. Our donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious help with the costs of their living and health care. Envelopes for this appeal are included in the monthly mailing for those who receive Sunday donation envelopes. Or you may use a white envelope in the pew racks and mark it “Retired Religious.” You may also donate to this appeal on our website. Thank you in advance for your generosity next weekend.

Looking ahead, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated this Tuesday, December 12. We will honor Our Lady of Guadalupe with our Hispanic brothers and sisters with the traditional early morning Mass and the evening celebration beginning at 6:30 pm. The Filipino novena of Simbang Gabi will be celebrated at our parish on Friday, December 15 with an evening Mass at 7:00 pm. These special ethnic celebrations are deep-rooted cultural celebrations of our faith. All parishioners are welcome. I join with our Hispanic and Filipino communities in inviting you to experience these celebrations this week.

Advent is a very beautiful, though short, season. Some of the most powerful readings in Scripture will be opened before us. Let us take advantage of these opportunities, listen to our stories and live in this season as best as we can. I am certain that God is waiting in the silence and can readily be found. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy