Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we celebrate 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.

Next Weekend will be the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” proclaims Saint John the Baptist in next weekend’s Gospel, as Jesus comes to him to be baptized (a little different view of what we have this weekend!).  Each day at Mass we hear these words proclaimed, when we are invited to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus, before he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, shared His Body and Blood with His closest friends and asked that they continue to do this in His memory. We are indeed blessed to be called to this Eucharistic Meal.

Upcoming: Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instituted the Sunday of the Word of God, to be celebrated annually on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. For the Sunday Masses of the week- end of January 25-26, we ask you to bring your personal or family Bible to Mass with you. We want to emphasize the importance of the Bible in Catholic life and encourage one another to read and study it as a regular part of our lives as disciples of Jesus. During the Mass we will have a commitment and blessing prayer as you hold your Bibles. There will be a brief service to enthrone and honor the Bible in your homes printed in the Bulletin the weekend of January 25 and 26.

As we conclude the Christmas Season again a BIG THANK YOU to all who made the season so special here at Saint Monica. Regardless as to how you participated you added to our worship and ALL of us are so appreciative. I know that the decorations are scheduled to be taken down tomorrow (Monday) around 11:00 A.M. Again, thank you for taking care of the “dismantling” of the decorations. Helpers are always needed.

Yesterday there was a meeting here 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. Obviously this is being written long before that meeting, but thanks to all who attended, and the questions and discussions we had. From the pews, and to those Extraordinary Ministers who weren’t present, you will be seeing some subtle changes coming. If you were unable to attend, we do have the notes for you. Please see me or Mary or Mike Zetlmeisl for the information.

Bells at Mass: I’m putting this in for the third time, with a little addition: 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 Conse- cration (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.”) 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 ([email protected]). Thank you. Once Deacon Westhoff returns from his pilgrimage and class in the Holy Land he will be working with our servers in implementing this. I have already gotten some positive feedback. I hope it won’t be disruptive!

The Apostleship of Prayer: How much more important can we pray for the Pope’s Intention for January, which is: Promotion of World Peace. With all of the actions being taken in the Middle East we REALLY need to pray for this intention. Thank you for doing so.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated each year the week of January 18 – 25. This year, again, the “official” Archdiocesan service will be here at Saint Monica on Sunday, January 26th, beginning at 7:00 P.M. Archbishop Carlson is scheduled to be the celebrant and Father James Mason, the Rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, will be the homilist. In addition to our Saint Monica Choir, there will be other choirs represented. There will also be a reception following in the School Cafeteria (sorry the Msgr. Schneider Hall renovation isn’t done!).  The theme this year is (taken from Saint Paul when he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta), “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness,” Acts 28:2. In this service we will be reflecting on the crisis regarding migration throughout the world, not just in the Southern Border of the United States. I will have more in next week’s bulletin about the theme.

I mentioned Deacon Dane Westhoff who is currently in Israel doing a Biblical Archaeology course with Father Charles Samson, of the Seminary, and with a number of his classmates. Last Sunday he was the homilist when the pilgrims celebrated Mass at the Church of Saint Joseph in Nazareth … how appropri- ate for a former union carpenter to be the homilist there! Let us pray for a continued safe pilgrimage and class for our Deacon and his classmates.

May we continue to have a blessed 2020 and a year of peace, God willing. Faithfully yours,

Fr Joe Weber