Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we are observing the 12th Day of Christmas, with the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Today we 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 Savior, the “newborn king of the Jews,” had been born. May we rejoice, for his saving presence has been made manifest to all.

Next weekend will be the last day of this year’s Christmas Season, as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Before Jesus began preaching, teaching, and healing throughout Galilee and Judea, He came to John to be baptized. The Spirit of God descended upon Him and God’s voice called out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” As Christians, baptized with the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to carry on Jesus’s mission. Let us consider how God calls us to put our faith into action. May God be “well pleased” in how we live our lives.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will resume this Wednesday, January 8. There will also be the Sacrament of Reconciliation available from 3:30 until 4:30 P.M.

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 scheduled 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. and will be held in Church. 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: Since so many people weren’t here last weekend, I’ll repeat this: 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 originally 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 consecration 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: The past few weeks I’ve been covering this important topic about daily prayer. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the past I mailed you the Apostleship of Prayer leaflet, with the Morning Offering and the Pope’s intentions for the year. However because of cost and the availability of the Internet, the Apostleship of Prayer has not produced those leaflets this year. As I mentioned last week, the Pope’s intention this week is Promotion of World Peace. On the Apostleship of Prayer website (http://popesprayerusa.net/) there is a reflection about this intention written by

Fr. William Blazek, SJ, the US and Canadian Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

This month we are praying that the gift Jesus promised us will spread over all the world. The Holy Father invites not only Christians to pray with us, but followers of other religions and all people of goodwill. We are praying for peace as well as for justice.

“Peace I leave with you, peace is my gift to you.” (Jn 14:27) The peace that Jesus gives brings serenity and freedom: The Hebrew word for peace, is shalom. In the translation of the bible into Greek it became eirene, which includes a sense of wholeness, completeness, success, fulfillment, harmony, security and even well-being. Still Jesus warned: “I do not give as the world gives.” His peace is otherworldly, and may await us in our heavenly reward. Still we labor here to establish the kingdom.

The Holy Father desires that his prayer intentions be directed towards “the challenges facing humanity.” As such they are of interest to people of other cultures, countries and even religions. The desire for peace and justice is deeply seated in the hearts of all men and women of goodwill and for this the Holy Father welcomes the cooperation those who pray alongside us.

What about justice, what does it look like? A wise Jesuit, Fr Earl Weis, SJ (RIP) once challenged me when discussing social justice: “Are you talking about man’s justice, or God’s?” It was a great question and caused me to pray for justice on a entirely new plane: “Thy will be done, Oh Lord, thy will.” May God’s peace and justice reign in our hearts, be established here on earth, and await us in the kingdom of heaven.

I plan on sharing with you each month the intention and the reflection so that we might all pray with the Pope. For more information, please see the website listed above.

Once again, THANK YOU for all your beautiful participation at the Christmas season Masses. Thanks to all who helped in any way. Thank you, too, for all the cookies, fruit, candy, etc., delivered to the Rectory this Christmas Season. I hope that Deacon Westhoff and I haven’t put on too much weight.

Speaking of Deacon Westhoff, if you’ve missed him the past couple of weeks, and he will be back next week, he is currently in Israel doing a Biblical Archaeology course with Father Charles Samson, of the Seminary, and with a number of his classmates. Let us pray for a continued safe pilgrimage and class for our Deacon and his classmate.

Fr Joe Weber