A word from Pope Francis ~ “When God comes, he always calls us out of our house. We are visited so that we can visit others; we are encountered so as to encounter others; we receive love in order to give love.”
On this final Sunday of December, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This is a moveable feast that most often falls on the Sunday between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1st). It is a relatively new feast on our calendar. Following World War I, the chaos of daily life in Europe made its impact felt on the family structure. The feast of the Holy Family was created in 1921 to offer Christians an image of hope and holiness in family life, and to promote the welfare of children. In 1969 the feast was fixed to the Sunday between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It is a great way for us to continue our celebration of the wonderful feast of Christmas.
Our parish celebration of Christmas Day was certainly different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on this year. Face masks and social distancing will remain one of the hallmarks of this year. In spite of all this, the pandemic did not stop Christmas from coming. We needed to celebrate “Emmanuel” – “God is with Us” – this year more than ever. Thank you to our Liturgy planning team who did their best to guide us. Zaira Defino and our Art and Environment volunteers did a wonderful job in setting the tone for Advent and now Christmas. Thank you to all of our pandemic volunteers who greeted us at the check-in tables, helped us find our seats, guided us during communion and sanitized the church and Ministry Center after each Mass. Thank you to our Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers who served us during our Christmas Masses. Thank you to Anne Sinclair and our cantors and musicians. We truly missed our choir this year. Anne found creative ways to bring the familiar music to our prayer without the danger of singing. Thank you to Tom Norton who coordinated the livestream of a number of our Masses and made them accessible to those at home and those out of the area. Thank you to Dan Tobin and our parish facilities crew who kept the parking lot and sidewalks safe. And thank you to you, our faithful parishioners, for your understanding and patience in dealing with the restrictions the pandemic has placed upon us. Whether you joined us in person or online, we celebrated the Light breaking into our darkness and giving us hope. We have entered the celebration of the season of Christmas very well.
On Friday, January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. This feast is a Holy Day of Obligation, but our Bishops have extended the dispensation from attending Sunday and Holy Day Masses until it is safe for us to fully resume in person prayer. Masses for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God will be celebrated on Thursday, December 31st at 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm (Spanish) and on January 1st at 8:30 am, 10:00 am and 11:30 am (Spanish). Reservations continue to be required for these Masses, as well as face masks and social distancing. Please note that our Parish Offices will be closed this week for the Christmas holiday. We will reopen at 8:00am on Monday, January 4th.
Thank you to all who sent Christmas greetings and gifts to us at the Rectory. We deeply appreciate your good wishes and your generosity. We are blessed in being able to serve you at our parish.
As the COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be administered, I believe that we have reached a turning point in the pandemic ordeal. We continue to maintain the safety practices that have brought us to this point. We are not out of the woods yet, but the end of all this seems to be in sight.
I suspect that many of us will be very happy to see 2020 pass into history. Even though it has been the most difficult year that any of us have seen, through it all, God continued to dwell among us, continued to bless us and continued to love us. As the calendar turns over Thursday night to the year 2021, let’s begin another new year in God’s faithful history of salvation. Know that I pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy