A word from Pope Francis
~ “I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.”
It is not very exciting to debate when the Church Year should begin or end. Maybe it doesn’t, especially since ending and beginning themes seem to sound alike and to flow into each other. But there is a Sunday when we come to the end of one year’s reading of a specific Gospel and turn our attention to another. That Sunday happens to be today as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Today we conclude our reading from the Gospel of Matthew, which we began last Advent. Week after week we have been journeying through this Gospel and have heard it proclaimed in almost its entirety. Next week, on the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new Church Year. We will change cycles in our Sunday Scripture readings and begin reading from the Gospel of Mark for a year. Mark’s picture of the person of Jesus will unfold before us.
We have all been following the daily news briefings as a result of the spike in the COVID-19 cases throughout the Midwest and our country. New stay at home recommendations have been made. So far, these have not changed what we have been able to do with our in-person daily and weekend Masses. Our re-opening plan last June allowed for approximately 135 (give or take) socially distanced seats in our church. We are able to continue in-person Masses at that capacity. Services without a Mass have been mostly cleared to the capacity given in the re-opening certification. Face masks and social distancing remain the absolute norm. Should we receive word that changes our present safety practices, we will send out an immediate notice. Thank you for your patience as we deal with our present “new normal.”
Maintaining our holiday outreach programs remains a priority for our parish. We have prepared a “Be the Light” all in one place guide for ways of participating in our traditional Advent outreach ministries. This guide has been emailed to all parishioners for whom we have an email address. A bulk mailing was sent to those for whom we do not have an email address. The “Be the Light” guide includes Toys for Tots, Adopt a Family for Christmas Dinner & Gifts, winter Coat Drive, Meals for our Homeless Neighbors served by PADS, a virtual Giving Tree, and online shopping with Star of Bethlehem Olive Wood Gifts. These are all important ways of reaching out and sharing the gifts God has blessed us with. I am happy that our holiday giving programs will continue, but with a different safer look. Look for our “Be the Light” Holiday Outreach Guide in your email. It is also available on our parish website.
This weekend we have the opportunity to join with the other parishes of our diocese in participating in the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Since 1970, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has been our church’s compassionate and effective response to the needs of low-income people in our own diocese and throughout our country. CCHD funds more than 300 projects each year, helping people to work within their own communities to create jobs, provide affordable housing, ensure decent wages and organize for change. CCHD is a practical way for us to respond to Pope Paul VI’s exhortation, “If you want peace, work for justice.” CCHD envelopes are included in the envelope packs mailed to our homes or you may use your own envelope marked CCHD. Please deposit your donation in the collection basket at the entrance and the exit of the church. You may also make a donation on our parish website. Thank you in advance for your generous support of this program.
As we make our journey through the month of November, we continue our prayerful month-long remembrance of those who have gone before us in faith. Our parish Book of Remembrance at the front of the Church near the Baptistery and the Easter Candle reminds us of our commitment to remember and pray for our beloved dead. Throughout this month, we continue our prayerful remembrance of those who now live with God. You are welcome to add additional names of your beloved dead in the Book of Remembrance during these final days of the month. May God welcome them into his glory.
This Thursday – Thanksgiving Day! A wonderful way to begin the day is by celebrating Eucharist with our parish family. We will gather either in-person or virtually through the livestreamed Mass to give thanks to our God for the many gifts with which we have been blessed. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate a single Mass on Thanksgiving morning at 9:00am in the church. Reservations are required as well as face masks and social distancing. Please join us as you are able.
Please note that our Parish Office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and on Friday. Weekday Mass on Friday will be celebrated at 8:15am, our Saturday morning time.
Also, 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.
We complete another Church Liturgical Year as well as can be expected in these difficult times. As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe this weekend and Thanksgiving this Thursday, we thank God for all of the blessings that we have experienced this past year and pray for better days ahead. We wish all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day and weekend. As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy