FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “To prepare the way for the Lord who comes, it is necessary to take into account the demands of conversion.”
Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We are in the final phase of our preparations. The Advent Scriptures have challenged us to look to the future when the Lord promised to return with salvation for his people, to remember the past when he came among us as one of us, and most important, to recognize the Lord’s presence already among us in his Word, the Sacraments and through each other. We have responded to John the Baptist’s call to repent and celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a community last Monday evening. This year, our Fourth Week of Advent lasts only three days. The Christmas Season begins with our anticipation Masses at 4:00pm on Tuesday. But before that happens, we need to conclude the Season of Advent.
This past week our daily Scripture readings have been retelling the story of Jesus’ first coming in the past and setting the stage for our Christmas celebration. Today the person of Joseph steps into our Advent spot light as we hear of his struggles with what Mary tells him. We know the story of the annunciation from Mary’s perspective. But one of the things the angel didn’t tell her was how to tell Joseph of this unexpected pregnancy. However Mary told Joseph, he didn’t believe her. His world came collapsed before him as he realized his betrothed was pregnant and he wasn’t the father. We hear of God’s compassion for Joseph as God assured him in a dream that what Mary told him was true. Only then was he able to believe and welcome Mary into his house. Like Mary, God blessed Joseph with everything he needed to respond to his invitations.
Our Christmas and New Year liturgical schedule is printed on the cover of this week’s bulletin. It was also included in our Advent 2019 Brochure that was mailed to each home and is posted on our parish website www.stisidoreparish.org. Please note the dates and times of all of our additional celebrations. We are anticipating capacity congregations at each of our 4:00pm Christmas Eve Masses in the Church, the Ministry Center and the Chapel. These Masses will begin as each space is filled, beginning with the Church. This means that Mass in the Church will begin once the Church is full. This could happen as early as 3:30pm. Then people will be directed to the Ministry Center and Mass there will begin once that space is full (probably around 3:45pm) and then the final Mass in the Chapel. So please do not drop off a family representative to “hold seats” in the Church with the rest of the family arriving later. Once the Church is near capacity, we will fill in any “saved seats” and begin the Mass. Please bring your entire family with you when you arrive so that you will be able to attend the Mass of your choice together. We have found that this staggered beginning of our 4:00pm Masses also allows for a staggered exit from the parking lot. If you would like to avoid the crowds on Christmas Eve, please consider the 8:30am Mass on Christmas Day. It should be an excellent choice for seating and parking.
No doubt, we will have a large number of visitors with us for our Christmas Masses and our parking resources will be pushed to their limits. Please consider some creative alternatives and use the Popeye’s/Red Lobster lot to the east, the Goodwill/Petco lot on the south side of Army Trail Road and the Turtle Wax Car Wash and Automotive Shops parking on the west side of Gary Avenue. It is a mark of true hospitality to leave the close-in spaces for the elderly and our visitors. Hopefully the warm weather will continue for the walk in from those remote lots. Thanks for your consideration.
In order to continue our celebration of Christmas, the church has placed a number of notable feast days on the calendar immediately following Christmas day. On Thursday we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, a Deacon and the first martyr. Friday is the feast of the Apostle and Evangelist, John. Please note that on these two days, we will celebrate a single daily Mass at 7:00am. Saturday is the feast of the Holy Innocents. We will celebrate our regular Saturday morning Mass on that day at 8:15am. Next Sunday we will celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We will have our regular schedule of Masses for next Sunday’s celebration, beginning with the anticipation Masses on Saturday evening.
The celebration of Simbang Gabi with our Filipino community last Friday was a very moving celebration. The Filipino community brings much to our larger church community. We are blessed to have the Filipino community remind us that we are a part of a larger church community.
Many of our college students have already made their way home for their Christmas break. Congratulations on a successful completion of your Fall semester. We are very happy to have you home with us!
As we gather again Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning for our celebration of the feast of Christmas, I ask that each of us be a generous as possible in remembering your Christmas gift to our parish. Like everyone else, we are facing increases in our fixed expenses. I am very grateful for your faithful support throughout the course of the year and thank you in advance for your continued support at Christmas.
Our parish office will be closed on Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Christmas Day, and also Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Christmas week. We will be open on Monday, December 30th from 9:00am to 6:00pm. The parish office will also be closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It is important that our parish staff have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their families.
As we complete our observance of Advent and begin our celebration of Christmas on Tuesday evening, please know that all of you are especially remembered in our prayers. As we gather with family and friends to retell the story of God’s coming among us in the past, let’s allow our retelling of the cherished and familiar story to open our eyes to recognize God’s coming among us today – especially through each other. We ask God’s blessings on those who are traveling and will be away at Christmas. Wherever Christmas may find us, may our celebration this year renew our hope and restore our peace as we recognize God’s closeness.
Merry Christmas! “God bless us everyone!”
Father Jim Murphy