On this first Sunday of December we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent and a new Liturgical Year. We begin a new cycle in our celebrations of the Liturgy. This year our primary Sunday Gospel will be the Gospel of Mark. Week by week, season by season, Mark’s picture of the person of Jesus will unfold before us. We will be telling our family stories. Some are humorous. Some are tragic. Most deal with familiar, common everyday events. These stories are life-lessons about birth, coming of age, dealing with hardship, sickness, death and all of the joys and struggles of life. These stories tell us who we are and where we are headed. Just as we take the time to listen to the stories of those we love and grow in our relationships with them, we are called to listen to the stories of our church family and grow in our relationship with God and each other. This new beginning is a new opportunity. Let us be grateful for the year that has been and for the year ahead of us.
One of the major themes of Advent is an invitation to recognize the presence of the Lord in the darkness and stillness of December. Our difficulty is that December is one of our busiest months. With all of the activity around us, it is easy to miss the simple “comings” of the Lord all around us. While we can’t change the pace of the month, we can try to build some quiet moments into our day where we can wait for the Lord in prayerful stillness. I have found that individual, daily quiet prayer is the key. Even a few minutes of daily personal prayer (especially silent, listening prayer) can change the tone of this season for us. We have the “Little Blue Books” for the Advent and Christmas Seasons 2016/2017 available again this year (both English and Spanish). This year’s book gives us six-minute daily reflections on the Infancy Narratives of Matthew. The six-minute program begins today, the First Sunday of Advent. If we can carve out some time for daily prayer, the effort will be worth the result.
Thursday, December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Holy Day of Obligation. Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States. Masses for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated beginning with the anticipation Mass on Wednesday at 7:00pm and continue on Thursday at 6:30am, 8:15am with the Grade School community, 12:05pm and conclude at 7:00pm. All of the Masses celebrated at St. Isidore will be in English. St. Matthew’s in Glendale Heights has two Masses celebrated in Spanish at 7:00pm on Thursday and 7:00pm on Friday.
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 8:15am Mass – 8:45 until 10:00am. This Saturday, December 9th we have a West DuPage Deanery Day of Mercy with St. Isidore designated as one of the regional parishes with the Sacrament of Reconciliation available from 9:00 to 11:00am. Additional local priests will be with us. We have added additional Reconciliation times on the Fridays of Advent (excluding December 22nd) following the 12:05pm Mass – 12:35-1:30pm and following the daily Masses on Wednesday, December 20th and Thursday, December 21st. Additional Reconciliation services have been scheduled for the grade school and religious education classes. Our parish Advent Reconciliation Service will take place on Monday, December 18th at 7:00pm. Additional priests will be available as confessors at this service. Please note these additional times to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for Christmas.
Looking ahead, we have two major celebrations taking place in our parish next week. Monday, December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. It is a very significant feast day for our Hispanic brothers and sisters. While celebrations take place throughout the day, beginning with a dawn Mass at 5:00am, our parish celebration will take place Monday evening with Mass at 7:00pm and a fiesta that will follow in the Ministry Center. And then on Friday, December 15th, our Filipino brothers and sisters will gather for Mass at 7:00pm for our local Simbang Gabi celebration. The celebration will continue after the Mass in the Ministry Center. These special ethnic celebrations are deep-rooted cultural celebrations of our faith and all of our non-Hispanic and non-Filipino parishioners are welcome. I join with our Hispanic and Filipino communities in inviting you to join in these celebrations next week.
It is wonderful to see so many of our college students while they are home for the Thanksgiving holidays. We promise them our prayerful support as they return to school to complete this semester with all of its papers and exams. Once that is done, Christmas vacation will be a real vacation.
New beginnings are good. Advent is a very beautiful, though short season. Some of the most powerful readings in Scripture will be opened before us. Let’s take advantage of these opportunities, listen to our stories and enter the season as best as we can. I am certain that God is lurking in this new beginning and can readily be found. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy