Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: This weekend’s readings speak to us about living as a family and a community. They confirm that both require work, generosity, patience and openness to the unexpected. We look to the Holy Family as a model for our- selves, and we learn — with some relief — that Jesus’ parents were as challenged and confounded as we often are. We can be like them because they were like us in so many ways.
On Tuesday of this week, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, a Holyday of Obligation, we will focus on the role of Mary in the wonderful miracle of the Incarnation. She was closest to all that happened, and it was she who came to know that God is here with, for and among us. As we celebrate this feast of Mary as the Mother of God, we, too, pause to ponder. What does it mean to be the Mother of God? What does this title say about Mary? About God? About us? And about the church that gave her this title? We begin this new year with fascinating questions.
Next weekend we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Next weekend’s feast is filled with ironies for us. It celebrates those from afar who early acknowledged the Christ child and reminds us of those nearby who were threatened by him. Living in a current political climate that debunks globalism and challenges the meaning of Christianity, we must ask: “How do we make Christ’s presence known?” Who do we accept into our communities and our lives regardless of their origins? Christ’s coming has always turned things upside down.
All the parish staff hopes that you had a great Christmas and will have a wonderful new year of 2019! The Parish Office will be open Monday, December 31, if you still want to make end of year donations to the parish. (Thank you in advance!) Of course the office will be closed on New Year’s Day. It is a Holyday of Obligation this year, and our Masses will be at 5:00 p.m. on Monday evening, and 9:30 A.M. and 11:30 A.M. on Tuesday morning. Despite being a Holyday of Obligation, what better way could we celebrate the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 than by attending Holy Mass and asking the Lord, and His Mother’s, protection for us!
I hope that by now you received the End of Year letter that was sent out just before Christmas. In it was one leaflet for the Apostleship of Prayer, “the Pope’s Worldwide Network.” Since I was a very little boy I’ve been praying the Morning Offering each day … with the intention recommended by the Pope. January’s intention is: “YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE EXAMPLE OF MARY: That young people, especially in Latin America (where the World Youth Day will be held later in January), follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy
of the Gospel to the world.”
I’m sure MOST of you know about the Apostleship of Prayer, but if you don’t, here is a VERY short history of it!
Our story begins on December 3, 1844, on the feast of St. Francis Xavier, at the novitiate for Jesuit students in Vals-près-le-Puy (central region of France). Their spiritual father, Father Gautrelet, SJ, held a meeting with the students to express dissatisfaction with an attitude developing among them. The problem was that they were more motivated by the idea of setting off for faraway missions in India than by having to learn theology. He urged them to concentrate more on their studies. But, when he was commenting on St. Francis Xavier’s missionary adventure in the homily for that feast-day’s Mass, he unintention- ally aroused the young students’ enthusiasm by describing how a life entirely given to study could be very effective in the apostolate: “If each one infuses his labors with the spirit of prayer and makes of them an offering; if several jointly direct themselves in the same way, there would be a convergence of power capable of lifting up mountains!” “Be missionaries already through your prayer, by the offering of your daily life. Your mission is here and now, in your studies and the little things of every day. In fulfilling it through being open to the will of God, you are already apostles who are helping the entire Church. Pray for the people you will meet tomorrow,” he told them.
Father Gautrelet suggested a series of simple steps that would help them to give meaning to what they were already experiencing in the service of Christ’s mission, while further deepening in them their apostolic availability. The work of every day is the primary apostolate, thanks to the daily offering of what is being lived. This way of seeing prayer as mission, ‘the spreading of faith by prayer,’ very quickly transformed the community: the Mass, sacramental offering of Christ, became the centre of the day, and the day became an extension of the Mass.
From that moment on, what was called ‘the Apostleship of Prayer’ (AP) spread like wildfire, first in the surrounding country villages where the young Jesuits passed on this way of praying rooted in daily life, then throughout the world. By 1849, the Apostleship of Prayer was recognized by Pope Pius IX, and in 1890, Leo XIII entrusted to it his monthly prayer intentions.
Ever since, popes have entrusted to us their intentions, which we continue to spread throughout the world today.
During the last four years, in the Rome office of this apostolate, we have guided a worldwide effort that has been called the “Re-creation of the AP.” We have made an effort to pinpoint the spiritual axes present in the foundational insight Father F.X. Gautrelet received in 1844. The renewed AP will strive to put Christ at the center of our lives and live with him an intimate friendship. We will be apostles invited to collaborate with him, available to his mission of compassion on behalf of our brothers and sisters.
The website (which is on your leaflet you received is): www.popeprayerusa.net Check it out; it is quite good. It also has a monthly video (only one minute long) from the Pope.
May you have a happy, holy, and blessed New Year’s and 2019!
Fr Joe Weber