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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! WHAT????? Has the pastor lost his mind? New Year's Day is still a month away. But not in the eyes and mind of the Church. This is the first weekend of Advent, the beginning of the new Liturgical Year in the life of the Church. Literally Advent means "to come to," to come to that moment when God would speak to us in an irrevocable way, assuring us of His presence, not just at that moment in chronological history (4 BC, when history tells us Jesus was born), but for all time. Advent is the time to remember that irrevocable moment and to prepare for His 2nd Coming in that remembering. It is a time of preparation.

I think there is no doubt that the Christmas season always brings with it a renewed awareness of and commitment to that yearning that lives inside each of us-for a better world, for a more loving world, for a more peaceful world, for a world where the hungry are fed, the homeless are housed and the lonely find comfort and hope. Where dialogue replaces shouting and cooperation replaces confrontation. And this year, as last, when the Covid virus is finally defeated. And you and I know that these yearnings don't come from the gifts we give or receive, or from Santa or even from renewed family relationships and gatherings. The underlying, but often unspoken reason for renewed hope, comes from the realization that we-the whole human race-are so loved by God that he came as one of us, in the flesh, to walk with us in our journey through life. The greatest, deepest aspirations of the human heart for a world that should and could be better come from that Solitary Life we welcome again on December 25th. And Advent is the time to prepare for that.

But how? While chronologically it goes hand in hand with shopping, decorating, sending Christmas greetings and socializing, even in the limited way that Covid is forcing upon us, it should be more. One way is to use the Little Blue Books, found at the doors of the church today, as a source of daily reflection. Another way is to use the ancient custom of the Advent wreath, praying and lighting a candle every evening before dinner.

Don't let this sacred time go by without some preparation for that "irrevocable" Word that God will speak at Christmas. At this Christmas, more than ever, we need to hear that Word. Perhaps another way to prepare would be to return to in-person worship sometime during this Advent season. In this way, the whole family could be ready for a truly "religious" and joyful start of the Christmas season with an attendance at one of the many Christmas masses. And remember, even the Masses celebrated in the school gym will be a place for Christmas joy, peace and renewal.

The beginning of a new liturgical year also brings with it a change in the cycle of readings. The Sunday readings are arranged in a 3 year cycle, Matthew (called Year A), Mark (called Year B-the year we just finished) and Luke (Year C-the year we are just entering). So we begin today, and continue throughout the liturgical year, reading from the Gospel of Luke. I will have more to say about the features of the Gospel of Luke when we get into the new calendar year.

Although Advent is not a penitential season, one Advent activity you might think of is making a contribution to the Annual Fund of the Academy of Our Lady. This appeal is usually earlier in the fall but was delayed this year because the calendar was too full. A sacrificial offering will help us continue to offer a Catholic education to our parish families. Envelopes are in the pews and in the process of being mailed to parish households. Please consider supporting this important apostolate of our parish, for the future of the church.

And while I'm at it, for those who have made a pledge to the Annual Appeal of the Archdiocese, please remember to conclude the payments by the end of December. For those who did not make a pledge, there is still time for a one-shot gift. Simply go to the Appeal icon on the homepage of our website.

Because I don't want to end on a money note, I send a special invitation to everyone to mark their calendars now for the annual Christmas Concert and Tree Lighting, Friday, Dec. 10th at 7:30 PM. It's a wonderful opportunity to deepen Christmas expectations by the sounds of Christmas, through the talents of all of our choirs and cantors, the Adult Choir, the Children's Choir, the Contemporary Choir and the Bell Choir. And to conclude with the lighting of the biggest tree in town. It's always been a great night and will be again this year.

Advent blessings,
Fr. Ron

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