Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent. God’s word is a message of hope, and it has long been proclaimed in difficult times of exile, imprisonment and political turmoil. For those of us weary of dark news, the message may be a momentary relief on this Sunday. But do we believe it? What will it take for this word to settle deep in our hearts and even motivate us to take hopeful action on behalf of those for whom hope is meaningless? If not us, then who?

Next weekend we will celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. Next weekend’s readings continue the themes of hope and expectation, adding the element of rejoicing — for Israel, for those awaiting the Messiah and for us. But there is also a summons to repentance and reformed conduct. The good news is tempered with a call to responsibility on our part. Like those before us, we are urged to hope and rejoice. In addition, we must ask the question: “What should we do?”

Special Collection for the victims of the fires in California. I mentioned this last week, and the Archbishop’s Letter was in last week’s bulletin, but this weekend we are having a special collection for the victims of the fires in California. If you wish to make a donation to help relieve the people of Northern California to rebuild their lives, please make a donation soon. Please make the check out to Saint Monica Parish, put in the MEMO LINE, “CALIFORNIA FIRES.” Thank you (again!) for your generosity for all those in need.

ADVENT PENANCE SERVICE for the Parish will be tomorrow Monday, December 10, beginning at 7:00 P.M.  There will be extra priests here that evening so that, following a brief service, you will have the opportunity to go to one of those priests. Mark it down!

Saint Vincent de Paul Giving Tree: Thank you SO much for all of the gifts that have been returned during the annual “giving tree” drive. Some of the members of the St Vincent de Paul Conference here commented to me that this is one of the best, if not THE best, drives in recent memory. If you are reading this before the 5:00 P.M. Mass on Sunday, you still have time to take an ornament, buy a gift, wrap it, and return it. All gifts must be returned by the end of the 5:00 P.M. Mass Sunday afternoon. THANK YOU; THANK YOU; THANK YOU!

Letter from the Archbishop: On Friday, November 30, a letter was mailed to all the people of the Archdiocese concerning the most distasteful topic of sexual abuse by the clergy. I hope that you have received it by now. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so! I would also ask you to check out the special webpage that has been established with this letter:

I think the Archbishop’s letter expressing his sorrow and, yes, outrage, at the events of the past and pledging a renewed spirit of sorrow and attempts at rebuilding trust and faith among the people of God of this Archdiocese … and the entire Church … is very well written. He began his letter with the following: The Church speaks of Advent as a season of hope. Saint Augustine once said: “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. I found his letter to be full of hope … along with some anger and the courage to make changes that are so neces- sary. The last two paragraphs of his letter read as follows: Saint Gregory the Great once said: “It is better that scandal should arise than that the truth should be suppressed.” I agree. Scandal has erupted. And the fundamental reason is not that the media is out to get us. The fundamental reason is that sins – and crimes – have been committed. The fundamental reason is that the Church needs to be purified, beginning with priests and bishops.

In this season of Advent, there’s no better place to turn than our blessed Mother – even and especially in a year of scandal. Mary watched as the Apostles abandoned her Son in the hour of his crucifixion. She welcomed them back when they had repented and helped them become in- struments of the Gospel again. So I pray, and ask you to pray with me: Mary, mother of mercy, help us by your prayers. Help bishops and priests to repent, to return to Jesus with a purified faith, and become instruments of his salvation.

After the letter he puts the following, something that has been in all parish bulletins in the Archdiocese for over a decade (and it was in bold print): To report any suspicion of abuse by any Church personnel please contact local law enforcement, or call the Missouri Department of Social Services Child Abuse Neglect Hotline Number: 1.800.392.3738. In addition, anyone who has knowledge of sexual abuse or misconduct by a member of the clergy, an employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis is urged to call the Office of Child and Youth Protection at 314.792.7704.

I hate to end this column with this information, but, unfortunately, it is so very important for all of us. Regardless, please have a BLESSED ADVENT season! I hope to see many of you at the Parish Penance Service tomorrow evening.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Fr. Joe Weber