A word from Pope Francis ~ “Advent invites us to prepare ourselves for Christmas, welcoming Jesus without fear. If we open wide the doors of our life, everything takes on a new light and our family, work, suffering, health, friendships, become opportunities to discover His consoling presence.”
On this final weekend of December and 2021, we celebrate the double Feasts of Christmas and the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. First, some thoughts on our celebration of Christmas ….
“The people who walked in
darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. You have brought
them abundant joy and
great rejoicing.” Isaiah 9:1-2
Each year we hear these Scripture verses proclaimed as we complete our Advent preparations and celebrate the profound mysteries of God’s presence among us. Each year we emerge from the darkness of sin, reconciled to our God and each other, and celebrate the Light shattering our darkness.
Christ, our Light, has come! Even the world of nature has responded to the Lord’s coming as the days since the winter solstice last Tuesday are now getting longer. We live in the Light of Christ. Even in the darkest hours of this past year of pandemic, we have lived in the light of Christ. The Lord has come to us and remains with us.
The darkness of the COVID pandemic over the past 20 months has had an effect upon us all. We all felt the loss of last Christmas when our gatherings with those we love were severely regulated. We’ve been on a roller coaster of sorts as moments of hope break through and then another variant of the virus appears and restrictions return. Last week we held our breath as we passed 800,000 COVID deaths nationally and the Omicron variant spread to our area. We are “the people who walked in darkness.” Without a doubt, we need the light of Christmas to shine on us this year. We need to reaffirm our belief that God has been and continues to be present to us no matter what we face.
Hopefully we will see a final turning point in this pandemic ordeal soon. For the present, we will 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.
As we gather with whomever we can 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.
“God bless us everyone!”
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.
Next Saturday, January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. 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 Friday, December 31st at 5:00pm and 6:30pm (Spanish) and on January 1st at 8:30am, 10:00am and 11:30am (Spanish). Please note that there will not be the regular Saturday evening Masses on New Year’s Day. Our Parish Offices will be closed this week for the Christmas holiday. We will reopen at 9:00am on Monday, January 3rd.
I suspect that many of us will be very happy to see 2021 pass into history. Even though it has been another difficult year, through it all, God continued to dwell among us, continued to bless us and continued to love us. As the calendar turns over Friday night to the year 2022, 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.