FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “We can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer.”
Today 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 Advent spotlight. His preaching to prepare a straight path for the Lord and to turn from our sins becomes the focal point 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. 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. And because of all of the distractions in our lives at this time of year, it is difficult to recognize the simple, everyday “comings” of the Lord all around us. Many of us are using the “Little Blue Books” for the Advent and Christmas Seasons 2019/2020 as our guide in our efforts to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.” Others are attending our daily weekday Masses at 7:00am and 12:05pm. Still others are taking additional prayer time in our Adoration Chapel and the Eucharistic Chapel either before or after Mass, or some time during the day. Whatever our practice, taking a few minutes for quiet, personal prayer each day can help us recognize those simple “comings” of the Lord all around us.
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). We have added additional Reconciliation times on the Fridays of Advent following the 12:05pm Mass (12:35-1:30pm). Additional reconciliation times have been scheduled for the grade school and for the week before Christmas. Our parish Advent Reconciliation Service will take place on Monday, December 16th 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.
We normally celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8th. Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of the United States, and this Feast is a major celebration in our country. But this year, December 8th falls on a Sunday and the Sundays of Advent take precedence over any other Feast Day. Respecting today’s celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, our church calendar throughout the U.S. has been adjusted and our observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, December 9th. Normally, this Feast is a Holy Day of Obligation. While the observance of the Feast may be transferred to Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is not transferred. Catholics are not obliged to attend Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this year. Masses on Monday will be celebrated at 7:00am, 8:15am with the Grade School community and at 12:05pm.
This Thursday, December 12th, is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. In 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to an Aztec Indian, Juan Diego at Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City. What was amazing about the apparition was that Mary appeared with the features of a pregnant Aztec maiden. This was another example of God’s practice to meet us wherever we are. As a result of this apparition, nearly the entire Aztec nation converted to the Christian faith. This was no small feat, especially when we remember that Christianity was the faith of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico. This is a major Feast for our Hispanic brothers and sisters and we celebrate with them at Thursday’s 7:00pm evening Mass.
This weekend we have the opportunity to respond to the annual Retirement Fund for Religious appeal. Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the national collection in 1988 to help address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious congregations. There are over 60,000 religious men and women living in our country. Since Religious Sisters and Brothers were not permitted into the Social Security system until 1972, their average Social Security benefit is about 60% less than the average American citizen. Our donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious help with the costs of their living and health care. Envelopes for this collection were included in the Sunday envelope packets mailed to our homes. White pew envelopes may also be used as well an additional contribution for on-line givers. Thank you for your generosity in responding to this annual appeal.
Our 2020 parish calendars arrived and are available at the exits of the Church and Chapel. We thank the Salerno family and the Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels for their generosity in providing our parish calendars again this year.
Just as we are decorating our homes for the holiday season, so too is our church home decorated for the season. Our Art & Environment Committee coordinated the Advent preparations in both the Church and the Chapel and spent “Black Friday” transforming our worship spaces from Ordinary Time to Advent. Thank you to all who worked hard to provide a fitting environment for our Advent prayer.
These are busy days ahead of us as we continue our preparations. They can also be beautiful days as the anticipation level rises in our young and young-at-heart people. God can be found in both the activity and in the quiet beauty. I pray that we will be able to recognize God’s presence among us in each moment. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy