Dear Parishioners,

This weekend, December 7th and 8th, will be the Second Sunday of Advent. (More about the Immaculate Conception follows.) This weekend Saint John the Baptist makes his first appearance during this Advent. He says, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He told the people of Judea that to prove their sincerity, they should produce good fruit. We all need to heed his call. To prepare ourselves for Jesus’s coming, we can begin with an examination of conscience. Let us see when and how we have failed to produce good fruit and commit to bearing good fruit in the future.

The Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother is celebrated on the 8th of December each year, with her birth coming nine months later on September 8th. However, when the 8th of December falls on a Sunday in Advent, as it does this year, the feast is transferred to the next day, Monday, December 9th. However, the OBLIGATION of attending Holy Mass is not transferred. So this year the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast of our nation, is NOT a Holyday of Obligation. To celebrate that feast, however, on Monday, December 9th, we will have two Masses, 6:30 A.M. and 8:15 A.M. The 8:15 will be an all school Mass, but all are (of course) invited to attend. It is, of course, entirely appropriate that

we celebrate this Solemnity during the Season of Advent. Mary was the first person called to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God. Her willingness to be an instrument of God’s grace is a model for us. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is within us, too, we are invited to prepare a home for Jesus in ourselves as well.  Of course there is no Scriptural references to the Conception of Mary in the womb of Saint Ann, but the Gospel tells us that she was truly “full of grace.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe: On Thursday of this week we will celebrate this feast calling to mind the Blessed Mother’s appearance to Saint Juan Diego. Her appearance brought hope to a poor Mexican peasant and to his ill uncle, hope that then radiated out to the Church in Mexico City, and, eventually, to the entire Western Hemisphere, leading her to be declared both Patroness of the Americas, and Empress of the Americas. We will have an additional all school Mass at 8:15 on Thursday morning (in addition to the normal Wednesday Mass, although the students will not be at the Wednesday Mass this week), celebrating her words of reassurance addressed to Saint Juan Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?”

Next weekend, December 14th and 15th, will be the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. In the First Reading this coming weekend, 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.

The Advent Penance Service for our parish will be this coming Wednesday, December 11, beginning at 7:00 P.M. This will be in conjunction with our PSR. I hope to have at least six priests available for confessions that night. Our school children will have the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Rec- onciliation on Thursday, December 12th, beginning at 1:00 P.M. We invite the parents of our children (grades 3-8) who might be available to attend and, perhaps, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the same time as their children. (Other parishioners are also invited, of course!) We will also continue to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation available on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 until 4:30 [not on Christ- mas and New Year’s, however!] and on Saturday, December 21st from 11:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. (in addition to 3:30 – 4:30 each Saturday).

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 on December 18 and we will resume on January 8. Thank you for your fidelity to this great opportunity to spend time with the Messiah.

Next Sunday will be a very important and busy Sunday here. There are 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 some- one 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 next Sunday, 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 begins 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 miscarriage, stillbirth, or even after an abortion.

To RSVP or for more information about the event, please contact the chairman of our parish’s Respect Life Committee, Diann Bomkamp dbomkamp@sbcglobal.net or 314.432.7719. To learn about Naming and Commendation or visit https://www.archstl.org/respect-life-apostolate/programs/pastoral-care.

Perhaps you heard that Sunday, December 1, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter about the importance of having a “crèche,” or “Nativity Scene” in public places … and, especially, in your homes. If you don’t have a “Nativity Scene,” while you are out shopping these days, pick up one. I’ll have more next week about it, but several lines from the Pope’s Letter really stand out:

“Dear brothers and sisters, the Christmas crèche is part of the precious yet demanding process of passing on the faith … 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…”

Have a blessed Advent Season. Fr Joe Weber