Today we continue our celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas with the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. We also have the opportunity to celebrate a World Day of Prayer for Peace.
In the bigger picture, we also are celebrating New Years Day and the first Sunday of the year, 2017. This new beginning gives us a fresh, new start with many new opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. It seemed that many of the recent “2016 Year in Pictures” segments on the television, and in the newspapers and periodicals featured images of human suffering and pain. These images seem to call us back to the basics, to the things that really matter. Family and faith are at the head of that list of things that really matter. Also high on the list are the relationships that sustain us and give us life. These past few weeks of the Advent and Christmas seasons have given us many different opportunities to reconnect with those who are important in our lives. We realize that our faith, which gives us direction and purpose, and our relationships, which give us life, do matter the most. I hope that these truly important aspects of life influence our New Year’s resolutions this year.
In view of the above, let me share some thoughts on the custom of Christmas cards. Many have recently said that in the era of electronic social media, that old fashioned, snail-mailed Christmas greetings are a thing of the past. Perhaps there is some truth to this, especially since one can reach out and greet thousands of “Friends” with a single post. But there is something holy and sacred about remembering and reaching out to the people who have blessed our lives in the past and with whom we have little contact today. We believe that among God’s best gifts to us are the people God has placed in our lives – both present and past. We are who we are today because of those who have loved us in the past and have been with us at the right moments of our lives. Even though we may have little contact with them today, they have formed us through their presence with us in the past and have literally left their fingerprints all over us! I have been reminded of this truth over the past few weeks as I received and sent Christmas greetings to so many people who had been a part of my past life. As I remembered people from each of the chapters of my life, I couldn’t help but feel very blessed to have been in the right time and place for them as they have been for me. I hope that you find the same to be true for you.
Our parish celebration of last Sunday’s feast of Christmas was certainly a grand one! Thank you to our Liturgy Planning team who guided and planned our efforts. Our Art and Environment Committee members did an extraordinary job in transforming both the chapel and the church from Advent to Christmas in the final days of Advent. Thank you to them for all of their work during these two seasons. Thank you to 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 who inspired us and led us in prayer. 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. We had three simultaneous Masses at 4:00pm on Christmas Eve. I am grateful for your planning ahead and working within our physical limitations. We began our celebration of the season of Christmas very well.
I also want to thank each one of you, the members of our St. Isidore parish family for your continued support of our many, many parish activities. I want to thank you for your faithful financial support. Not only were you very generous in your Christmas offerings, but you are also very faithful in your weekly support of the parish through your regular Sunday offerings and your pledges to our Capital Campaign. Without your continued support, we could not provide all of the activities and programs that make us such an alive and active parish community.
Finally, I want to thank you for the volunteer services you provide. Our liturgies, our spiritual ministries to the homebound and infirm, our parish social functions, and our religious, educational and athletic activities could not be provided without the many volunteers who provide their time, service and talents to accomplish these tasks.
Thank you to all who sent Christmas greetings and gifts to us at the Rectory. We deeply appreciate your good wishes and your generosity. We are blessed in being able to serve you at our parish.
Please note that our Parish Offices will be closed for the New Year’s holiday on Monday, January 2nd. We will reopen at 8:30am on Tuesday, January 3rd. Our parish Grade School resumes classes on Wednesday, January 4th.
Now that we have said goodbye to 2016 and begun the New Year, 2017, we take our cue from Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who held and treasured each of the events around her in her heart. We look to the future with faith and hope. Wherever God may lead us, we remember that “’The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you….’” (Deuteronomy 31:8. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy