May you all have a very happy, blessed, and Merry Christmas. On behalf of all the Parish Staff, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. The Archbishop’s letter is on the previous page in this bulletin, and he sends his prayerful greetings to all as well.
This 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 pace on our hearts of God to be with us!
Christmas, Vigil and Day, December 24th and 25th: Christmas Eve is a time to keep watch. I know many people are very busy, but we are waiting for “justice and mercy to descend from heaven, for the fullness of life to spring up from the earth.” On this holy night we wait for the
Lord to appear in glory. So we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Word made flesh. Fully divine, yet fully human. He was born in a stable, not in a palace. He was laid in a manger, not in a bed. He was born in a foreign town, so greeted by strangers, not by family friends, and neighbors. He was born to a woman chosen by God. He is the one who was prophesied and longed for, now born into this world. His birth is so much more than just presents and eat- ing (and NBA basketball). Here now, with us, among us, in us: Jesus is born! Have a Merry Christmas.
Comites Christi: For centuries the days after Christmas, when we celebrate the Feasts of Saint Stephen, Deacon and the Protomartyr of the Church, Saint John the Evangelist, and the
Holy Innocents, were classified as “the comites Christi,” the companions of Christ. Each of those saints add something to the Christmas celebration … Saint Stephen by professing the faith and dying for it (December 26), Saint John the Evangelist for explaining the faith and giving us the beautiful prologue to his Gospel, including the line “the Word became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us,” (December 27) and the Holy Innocents, silent witnesses of the birth of the Messiah, the “new born King of the Jews.” (December 28) So may we join with them, along with Saint Thomas Becket (December 29, although not celebrated this year) and Pope Saint Sylvester I (the Pope who baptized Constantine, on December 31) being witnesses and companions of Jesus.
Next weekend, December 28th and 29th will be the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Perhaps we may think that this special family, living SO LONG AGO and SO FAR AWAY, might not be relevant for families today. But that is hardly the case. Just like families today they enjoyed times of great joy, but also suffered through terrible hardships. The delights of a newborn baby was accompanied by the feast that led them to flee to a foreign land (Egypt). Next weekend let us pray that the faith and love shown by the Holy Family may sustain us through both our joys and our struggles. As is our custom we will have the annual Blessing of Families at all the Masses next weekend. I hope you will be here.
Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will NOT happen on Christmas or New Year’s. Nor will we have Confessions at 3:30 on those two Wednesdays. We will resume both on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
The Apostleship of Prayer: This is mainly repeated from last week, with additions! 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 it- self” 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. Have a blessed remainder of this Advent Season.
The MORNING OFFERING: (Traditional prayer): O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the inten- tions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
(An alternate prayer): God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys and sufferings in union with Your Son Jesus’ Heart, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray especially for this month’s intentions as proposed by the Holy Father.
The Intention for December is: The Future of the Very Young: That every country take the measures necessary to prioritize the future of the very young, especially those who are suffering. I will have the 2020 intentions in next week’s bulletin. I encourage you to check out the Apostle- ship of Prayer’s website: http://popesprayerusa.net/ It has all sorts of good things, including a brief video from Pope Francis about the intention for the month.
I pray that you and yours have a very blessed Christmas celebration during the entire Christmas season, which, this year, runs until January 12.
Fr Joe Weber