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Dear Friends,
Because the last day of the year (2017) fell on a Sunday, the Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family, and therefore the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, was not a day of obligation this year, many did not come for Mass on January 1st and so we didn’t get a chance to wish you a happy new year and so I do it now, Happy New Year. 2017 was certainly a difficult year in many ways and I must admit many, including myself, are not sorry to see it pass, and with its passing, the hope that life will improve in this new year, with less terrorist threats, more civility in our political and social dialogue, a renewed heart to solve the worldwide ills that afflict so many and greater efforts for peace in our time. I can think of no greater prayer for this than the prayer given to Aaron and quoted in last week’s 1st Reading: “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you and give you peace.” So may it be for all of us.

I have mentioned a few times during Advent that this Advent was the shortest it could possibly be, three full weeks and one day which was simultaneously the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. That’s because the Liturgical Calendar is driven by the celebration of Easter, which, according to the Council of Nicaea (325BC) was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. (It would take too long to try to explain the ramifications of this determination). In any case, in this current Liturgical Year, which began on the 1st Sunday of Advent, not only is Advent the shortest it can be, the Christmas season is the shortest it can be as well. So, the Christmas season formally ends tomorrow, Monday, January 8th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which, in most years is celebrated a full week after the Feast of the Epiphany, which we are celebrating today. When you come to church next weekend, the manger, the trees, the wreaths will all be gone. Anyone who wishes may take a poinsettia plant home with them after mass today.

Christmas is a tiring time for everyone, in your homes and offices, and ours as well. Putting together all the elements that make for a joyful celebration of God’s great gift to us in Jesus Christ is the work of a great number of people here in the parish and as the Christmas season is closing I want to express my thanks and appreciation to all. This includes the maintenance staff, the office staff, our sacristans and desk workers, and all of the “stewards” who have given of their time and talent to help, among them the lectors, commentators, Eucharistic Ministers, the ushers and ministers of hospitality and the altar servers. A big thank you to the members of our Music Ministry who helped frame the beauty of the season with the traditional sounds of Christmas, both at the concert and at the eleven celebration of our Christmas liturgies. An equally big thank you to all those who helped decorate the church and the auditorium, no small tasks considering the sizes of these spaces. And many thanks to the members of our Youth Ministry who set up the auditorium and served in the liturgical ministries for the masses that were celebrated there.

On behalf of the priests, I want to thank all who sent Christmas greetings, whether cards or baked goods or libations or fruit or baskets with all the assorted nuts and crackers and cheeses and the like. If the priests are looking a little heavier or moving a little slower, it’s because they appreciated all the “goodies” that are now weighing them down.

I am also grateful for all who came to celebrate. I want you to know that we don’t take that for granted. Whether you come regularly, or not so regularly, we are happy that you come. For those who don’t come regularly, we wish you would come more often. Your coming is not only an occasion for the Lord to touch your heart, for which we pray, but it is also an occasion to express your participation in the life of our Catholic community and your presence reminds us of that and challenges us to look for ways to deepen it throughout the year, and not just at Christmas. For those who do come regularly, thank you for that public expression of your faith and your participation in the life of the community at worship. For those of us who engage in ministry here at Mount Carmel, it is a source of encouragement for us. And you should know your participation makes this the vital and alive community that it is. On a personal note, my favorite celebration is the Midnight Mass. When I first came and moved the “Midnight Mass” back from 10:00PM Christmas Eve to ”Midnight,” some said it would attract only drunks. I have found it to be just the opposite. The overwhelming majority arrive on time (or before, to hear the choir) and stay until the end. I have found the congregation (usually a full church, standing room and choir loft) to be unusually reverent, prayerful and filled with the sense of Christmas joy and peace, and it is always a joy for me to celebrate it, even as the last of the five Christmas Eve liturgies.

And so we move on. Before the conclusion of all the masses this weekend, two parishioners, one man and one woman, will speak briefly about the up-coming Cornerstone retreats for the women (Jan. 20th) and men (Jan. 26/27) of the parish. I hope everyone will pay special attention to their message and their invitation. Members of Cornerstone will be at the doors of the church to answer any questions you might have and I will write again next week on these retreats.

God bless,
Fr. Ron

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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