We continue our celebration of Christmas on this “3rd day of Christmas” with the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This is a moveable feast that most often falls on the Sunday between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1st). It is a relatively new feast on our calendar. Following World War I, the chaos of daily life in Europe made its impact felt on the family structure. The feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was created in 1921 to offer Christians an image of hope and holiness in family life, and to promote the welfare of children. In 1969 the feast was fixed to the Sunday between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It is a great way for us to continue our celebration of the wonderful feast of Christmas.
Our parish celebration of Christmas Day was certainly a grand one! Thank you to Sue Entwistle and the Worship Commission who guided and planned our efforts. Our Art and Environment Committee, led by Dorothy Jaskey, did a splendid job in transforming both the church and the chapel from Advent to Christmas. They worked long hours during the final week of Advent preparing for our Christmas Season Masses. They also had to prepare the Ministry Center for our Thursday afternoon Christmas Eve Mass, following PADS on Monday night. Thank you to each one of our A&E volunteers for all of their work during these two seasons. Thank youto our Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Greeters, Ushers and Altar Servers for their dedicated service at our Christmas liturgies. A number of them attended one Mass with their families and then returned to a later Mass to serve in their particular ministry. Thank you to Karen Stefanic and our choir members, cantors and musicians. Many of them also did double duty so that our Christmas Masses would have appropriate leaders of music. And thank you to you, our faithful parishioners, for your hospitality in welcoming the additional visitors and dealing with our limited parking resources at Christmas. Christmas Eve has emerged as our primary celebration of Christmas. We celebrated three Masses at 4pm on Christmas Eve. I am grateful for your planning ahead and working with our limitations. We have entered the celebration of the season of Christmas very well.
On Friday, January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. This feast is a Holy Day of Obligation when the date falls on a Tuesday through Friday, as is the case this year. Masses for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God will be celebrated on Thursday, December 31st at 5:00pm and 6:30pm (Spanish) and on Friday, January 1st at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30am (Spanish). Please note that our Parish Offices will be closed for the New Year’s holiday on Thursday, New Year’s Eve and Friday, New Year’s Day. We will reopen at 8:30am on Monday, January 4th.
Thank you to all who sent Christmas greetings, baked goods and gifts to all of us at the Parish Office/Rectory. We deeply appreciate your good wishes and your generosity. We are blessed in being able to serve you at our parish.
It is hard to believe that another year will soon pass into history. Whatever the past year may have held for each of us, through it all, God continued to dwell among us, continued to bless us and continued to love us. As the calendar turns over on Thursday night to the year 2016, let’s begin another new year in God’s faithful history of salvation. As we focus on the Stewardship pillar of Formation this year, we commit ourselves to growing in both our community and our personal understandings of our faith. For most of us, that takes place at our regular Sunday gatherings for Sunday Mass. We hear God’s Word proclaimed to us on a three year cycle. This year we are in Cycle C and will spend a significant amount of time hearing from Luke’s Gospel. Our homilies will attempt to apply God’s Word to our everyday situations. Our community prayer time, Sunday Mass, is a special opportunity for us to grow in our understanding (formation) of our faith and to grow in deeper conversion to the Lord Jesus.
We are also celebrating an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, a Holy Year which began on December 8th and runs to the solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. When Pope Francis formally announced the Holy Year of Mercy, he said that this will be a time for animating “a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.” We are planning opportunities for us to experience God’s mercy throughout the Year and opportunities to share God’s mercy through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Holy Year promises to be a special year of grace!
As we begin a new year later this week, know that I pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy