A word from Pope Francis ~ “Remember, if death is not to have the last word, it is because in life we learned to die for one another.”
As we celebrate the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we move into the final stretch of this Church Year. We have one more Sunday and then conclude with the Feast of Christ the King. For the present, Jesus offers us a parable that invites us to be prepared and watchful for the return of the Bridegroom. The parable is loaded with many symbolic images: light, delay, waiting, drowsiness and sleep, a midnight arrival, wedding feast, some admitted and some not. All of these images turn our attention to the Second Coming of Christ. We rarely, if ever, view our daily Christian living in light of the final coming of Christ. Yet that return is the source of our ongoing hope. If we are not ready at the Second Coming of Christ, we can’t count on anyone else to cover for us. We are provided now with all that we need to be ready when Christ comes. Since we don’t know when Christ will come again, we need to live each day as if that return would take place tonight. The best way to prepare is to live today as if this were the day when our Bridegroom will come and invite us to the feast.
One of the traditional aspects of the month of November is our prayerful remembrance of those who have gone before us in faith. We celebrated our annual Parish Memorial Mass on All Souls Day, last Monday, November 2nd. There we remembered by name those of our parish who died this past year and included all those entered in our Books of Remembrance. Since this is also our Centennial Year, I included our 45 founding families of our parish who laid the foundation for our parish and all those who built the buildings in which we gather for prayer. The Scripture readings for the day remind us that we are still connected with those who have gone before us. It is as if we are still in the same room with a curtain separating us one side from the other. Our parish Book of Remembrance is now at the front of the Church near the Easter Candle at the Baptistery. If you were not able to add the names of your beloved dead in book for our All Souls Day Masses, please feel free to add these names to our Book of Remembrance. We continue to remember all of our beloved dead in prayer during this month of November.
Bishop Hicks recently sent is the latest “Guidelines and Directives for Holy Day / Holiday Celebrations.” He reaffirmed the practices we have been following since we were able to re-open for in-person celebrations of the Sacraments. Face masks and social distancing remain the norm, especially since we have seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in our area. While “COVID fatigue” may be a common experience among us now, we need to maintain our vigilance in battling this pandemic as the holidays approach. No doubt, our holiday customs and services will have a different look this year. Our guide is the overall priority of the safety of all participating in our services. Our parish celebrations around the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Filipino novena of Simbang Gabi will be simplified. The novena preparing us for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe will take place as ZOOM meetings. While both Masses will be live-streamed, each Mass will be simplified and food and fellowship after each of these celebrations are not possible. The important thing is that both Masses will take place.
We finalized the Christmas and New Year’s Mass schedule at our Staff Meeting last Tuesday. Limited seating in the church and Ministry Center remains an issue. We will live-stream a number of these Masses to accommodate the greatest amount of people and for those not comfortable gathering in large groups. Christmas Masses will be celebrated on Christmas Eve at 4:00pm in both the church (live-streamed) and the Ministry Center. Mass in Spanish will be celebrated in the church at 6:00pm. “Midnight Mass” will be celebrated in the church at 10:30pm (live-streamed). As the COVID-19 limitations prevent our choir from gathering, we will not have our traditional concert this year. Plans are still in the works on what will precede the “Midnight Mass” this year. Masses on Christmas Day will be celebrated at 7:00am, 8:30am, 10:00am (live-streamed), 10:00am in the Ministry Center, 11:30am Spanish (live-streamed) and 1:00pm. We will also provide seating in the Ministry Center at 11:30am for the live-streamed Spanish Mass from the church and will have Eucharistic Ministers bring Communion from the church at Communion. Reservations will be required for each of these Masses. Masses for New Year’s will be celebrated on New Year’s Eve at 5:00pm and New Year’s Day at 8:30am, 10:00am (live-streamed) and 11:30am in Spanish (live-streamed). We encourage anyone who is not comfortable gathering in large groups to stay home and join us in prayer through our live-streamed Masses. These schedules will be posted on our parish web site, social media, and listed in future Flocknotes.
Please note our shift in Masses beginning the first Sunday in December. Our Sunday Spanish Mass will return to its original time of 11:30am and the 1:00pm Mass will be celebrated in English. All other Mass times remain the same.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our parish social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy