This weekend, December 14th and 15th , is the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. In the First Reading today, again from the Prophet Isaiah, we will hear: “Rejoice with joyful song,” reminding us of the object of this season of preparation. We prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, into the world, into our hearts, and at the end of time. As we are so often wrapped up in all sorts of busyness and craziness of the season, let’s try to put it aside for this coming weekend and concentrate on preparing our hearts for the divine presence in us and among us.
Next weekend, December 21st and 22nd , sets the stage for Christmas, just three days to go! Even though all of us are very busy this time of year, today we are asked to focus on the true gift of Christmas: JESUS CHRIST! A virgin will bear a son, one in the line of David, who will be called Emmanuel, “God is with us.” Along with preparing gifts and all the great food we will have these days, may we also prepare a place in our hearts of God to be with us!
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available this coming Wednesday afternoon from 3:30 until 4:30, on Saturday, December 21st , from 11:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M., and from 3:30 P.M. until 4:30 P.M. (as usual) on Saturday afternoon. After that, please call and make an appointment if you wish to receive that Sacrament before Christmas.
Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament: I am sure that you already realized that Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Wednesdays this year (and 2020!). Accordingly we will NOT have Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament on those two days. We will December 18
(although it will be suspended from 6:45 P.M. until 7:30 P.M., because of a special Mass for our PSR students and families), and we will resume on January 8. Thank you for your fidelity to this great opportunity to spend time with the Messiah.
Today we have two very important things happening!
First we will have our quarterly BLOOD DRIVE. There is ALWAYS a need for blood during the “holiday season.” By giving ten days before Christmas your blood should be ready to be used by someone during “the holidays.” Thank you so much for “giving the gift of life.” Watch for the van
(s) on the parking lot. Thank you!
Also today we will be hosting a Naming and Commendation Rite at 2:00 P.M. Developed by the Archdiocese, this prayer service is designed to meet the needs of families whose child died before birth, for any reason – whether recently or years ago. All are welcome. The ceremony will begin at 2:00 P.M., with an opportunity to name the child, bring peaceful closure to great loss, and allow each family to unite with our merciful God. We hope that this can bring comfort following a mis- carriage, stillbirth, or even after an abortion. To learn about Naming and Commendation or visit online: https://www.archstl.org/respect-life-apostolate/programs/pastoral-care.
The Pope’s Letter about Nativity Scenes: I mentioned this last week but I wanted to give you a little more information about it this week, as we are making final preparations for things at home.
Deborah Castellano Lubov, a writer for Zenit.org, penned the following on December 1. 2019.
In Franciscan Shrine in Greccio, (Pope Francis) Reminds Christmas Creche Teaches Us to Contemplate Jesus and Experience God’s Love for Us.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the Christmas crèche is part of the precious yet demanding process of passing on the faith.”
Pope Francis has given this reminder in the Apostolic Letter he has written, titled ‘Admirabile Signum,’ on the meaning and importance of the Nativity Scene. He signed it December 1, 2019, the first Sunday of Advent, in the Franciscan Shrine in Greccio, where St. Francis of Assisi made the first ever Nativity Scene.
“Beginning in childhood, and at every stage of our lives,” the Holy Father recalled, “it teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us…” More- over, he continued, it teaches us “we are with Him, His children, brothers and sisters all, thanks to that Child who is the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary.”
“To realize that, in that knowledge,” Pope Francis said, “we find true happiness.”
It is a rather short letter (as Papal Documents go), so if you have time and want to read the entire text, here is the link: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa- francesco-lettera-ap_20191201_admirabile-signum.html
The Apostleship of Prayer: Since my arrival here each December the registered parishioners were sent the following year’s leaflet for the Apostleship of Prayer. What is the Apostleship of Prayer? On December 3rd it marked its 175th Birthday. On December 3, 2019 the Apostleship of Prayer issued the following: (Today) 175 years ago a group of Jesuit students felt frustrated because of their desire to go to the missions, but could not. Their formator invited them – on the feast of
St. Francis Xavier – to be missionaries striving to be available to Christ to fulfill their daily obligations. Thus they gave a new meaning to their daily activities and established the Apostleship of Prayer, today known as the Pope’s World Prayer Network. How do you live your daily activities? Do you strive to fulfill your obligations well?
Because of costs (and modern technology!), the Apostleship of Prayer has ceased printing these leaflets. BUT, as mentioned above, the Apostleship of Prayer is in the process of “rebranding itself” to be “The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.” It is still very important that we pray and, hopefully, you would be able to pray the “Morning Offering” each day. Next week I will put in the Morning Offering Prayer (two options) and the intentions of the Pope for 2020. Again, I hope you will be pray the Morning Offering (I know I started as a young child at home with my parents), and will remember the intentions of the Holy Father. Thank you.
Have a blessed remainder of this Advent Season.
Fr Joe Weber