Dear Parishioners,

Although we are still in the Christmas Season, even if the “world” thinks it is over, I hope that you have a tremendous New Year’s celebration. Be safe, please. My prayer is that 2020 will truly be a year of grace for all of us!

Our Masses for the Holyday of Obligation will be at 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, and at 9:30 A.M. and 11:30 A.M. on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

Many thanks to all who are making this Christmas Season so beautiful: the decorators, the musi- cians, the choirs, the Readers, the servers, etc., etc., etc. BUT, most importantly, thanks to YOU the assembly who have gathered to celebrate these most important feast days! May God bless you all.

This weekend we are celebrating 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 rele- vant 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 fear 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 this weekend.

Tuesday, January 1, 2020, is the Octave Day of Christmas: Mary, the Holy Mother of God. On this special day we honor Mary in her role as the Mother of God, the “Theotokos,” (literally the “God bearer”), as defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council defined that Mary is the Theoto- kos” because her son Jesus is both God and man: one divine person with two natures (divine and human) intimately and hypostatically united. She made possible Jesus’s coming into the world, fully human and fully divine. May we consider the ways we can bring Christ into our world and look to Mary as a model of selfless obedience to God.

Next weekend we will observe the 12th Day of Christmas, with the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. On that day we will celebrate the manifestation of Jesus to foreigners … the magi from the East. What had originally been known only to Mary and Joseph, and soon shared with intimate friends like Mary’s relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah, then revealed to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’s birth, has now been made known to these visitors from the East. Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Sav- ior, the “newborn king of the Jews,” had been born. May we rejoice, for his saving presence has been made manifest to all.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will NOT happen on New Year’s. Nor will we have Confessions at 3:30 on New Year’s Day. We will resume both on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, PLEASE NOTE: On Saturday, January 11, there will be a meeting for ALL Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, those who are regularly sched- uled at our Masses here as well as those who take Holy Communion to the Sick, either at home or in the various nursing homes in our parish. The meeting will begin at 9:00 A.M. here at the Parish. (The exact place will be in next week’s bulletin.) Please allow yourself a two hour window for the meeting, although I hope it will be over prior to 11:00 A.M.  If you are an active parishioner, confirmed, and 18 or over, you are eligible to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. If you would like to be a Minister, you are also invited to attend this meeting. If you have any questions, please write me (jweber@stmonicastl.org) with questions. We are going to implement a few changes, (nothing earth shattering!), and we’d like to address ALL of our Extraordinary Ministers at the same time. It saves us all time!  Thank you so much.

Bells at Mass: In the past bells ringing at Mass, at various times during the Mass, was the norm. Since the Mass is now in English and the priest is generally “facing the people,” the number of times bells would be rung has gone down. They are still permitted (according to the General Instruction of

the Roman Missal) before the Consecration (at the epiclesis), and at each of the Elevations of the Sacred Host and Chalice.  (Number 150 says:  “A little before the Consecration, if appropriate, a minister rings a small bell as a signal to the faithful. The minister also rings the small bell at each elevation by the Priest, according to local custom.”) In many parishes here in the Archdiocese it is the “local custom.” We have discussed implementing this at the Worship Committee and it was unanimously agreed to do so. So once we get the servers (“the minister”) trained, we will be implementing the use of the bell at those three times in the Mass. The history of the bells being rung goes back centuries and it was origi- nally the church bell(s) that was (were) rung at the Holy, Holy, Holy, and at the other times of the Mass, to alert the people that our Lord was coming to be with us through the Sacramental Species of the conse- cration bread and wine. I hope that it would bring more reverence and attention to what is happening at the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. Again, as above, if you have any questions, please write me (jweber@stmonicastl.org). Thank you.

The Apostleship of Prayer: I have covered this the past two weeks, and I don’t have room to do much more at this time other than to give you the intention for the month of January. I encourage you to PLEASE offer this prayer daily and ask the Lord to listen to our prayers.

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 intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for the intention recommended by our Holy Father this month: promotion of World Peace, we pray that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world.

(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 intention: promotion of World Peace, we pray that Christians, follow- ers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world.

I pray that you and yours are having a blessed Christmas season and will have a most blessed 2020. Please remember that for Catholics this year’s Christmas season runs until January 12.

Fr Joe Weber