Sunday, December 26, 2021

Feast of the Holy Family


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This feast takes place on the Sunday immediately following Christmas, falling within the season of Christmas fittingly to continue to call our attention to the profound reality of God becoming man. On this feast we are reminded of the humanity of Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph. Jesus grew up in their home. The only thing we know about Jesus’ childhood, apart from His infancy, is the account we hear in today’s Gospel. We do learn quite a few things about the Holy Family from this gospel account. First, we see that they are a faithful Jewish family. Second, we learn that they traveled in a “caravan” that probably included many, many relatives and friends. Third, we see that Mary and Joseph had typical parental concerns. Not being able to find Jesus for three days caused them “great anxiety.” Fourth, Jesus’ response to Mary and Joseph when they find Him reveals that their role, although essential, was to be subordinate to the will of Jesus’ Father in Heaven. The passage does tell us that Jesus “was obedient to them,” but this obedience was always connected to His perfect obedience to God. Likewise, our families are to be reflections of our relationship with God.

In the bulletin from our parish, they had a consecration prayer to the Holy Family.  I share it below.  May the holy family continue to guide and watch over us.

O Lord Jesus, you lived in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth.  There you grew in age, wisdom, and grace as you prepared to fulfill your mission as our Redeemer.  We entrust our family to you.  O Blessed Mary, you are the Mother of our Savior.  At Nazareth you cared for Jesus and nurtured him in the peace and joy of your home.

We entrust our family to you.  O Saint Joseph, you provided a secure and loving home for Jesus and Mary and gave us a model of fatherhood while showing us the dignity of work. We entrust our family to you. Holy Family, we consecrate ourselves and our family to you. May we be completely united in a love that is lasting, faithful, and open to the gift of new life.  Help us to grow in virtue, to forgive one another from our hearts, and to live in peace all our days. Keep us strong in faith, persevering in prayer, diligent in our work, and generous toward those in need.  May our home, O Holy Family, truly become a domestic church where we reflect your example in our daily life. Amen.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!


Monday, December 20, 2021

Star of the Nativity

As we prepare for Christmas, I came across this poem in my prayer and wanted to share it with others.  Sr. Jeannie

Star of the Nativity


In the cold season, in a locality accustomed to heat more than to cold, to horizontality more than to a mountain, a child was born in a cave in order to save the world; it blew as only in deserts in winter it blows, athwart.


To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother’s breast, the steam out of the ox’s nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior—the team of Magi, their presents heaped by the door, ajar.  He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.


Keenly, without blinking, through pallid, stray clouds, upon the child in the manger, from far away—from the depth of the universe, from its opposite end—the star

was looking into the cave. And that was the Father’s stare.


                                                                                                      December 1987


The poem caused me to remember that the child coming very soon had the love of parents as he entered the world.  Love is a very powerful feeling and something we all need. Let us remember Jesus' words -Love one another as I have loved you.  Love is what we must work to bring the word this Advent and Christmas season.


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Advent


Today we celebrate the fourth and final Sunday of Advent in 2021. During these weeks we have eagerly anticipated the celebration of Christ’s birth.  The fourth Sunday of Advent we meditate on the peace that Jesus brings our hearts and our world.

This week we focus our hearts on the “Lord of peace” who came down from heaven in the form of a baby.  As Covid 19 cases are once again on the rise our God knows that we are in a constant battle against fear! Fear wants to cripple us, to push us to react rather than carefully respond, and fear steals our joy. God has given us the gift of peace so we can live joy-filled lives!  This year we all have faced so much chaos and uncertainty. God’s peace is something we need to grab tightly onto more than ever. May God’s spirit transform the days leading up to Christmas into a time to joyfully await our King!

The fourth candle of Advent is called the “Angel Candle” and symbolizes peace. This name comes from the fact that the angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace (Luke 2:14). This week we are reminded that Jesus came to bring peace to our hearts and to our world!

The O Antiphons of Advent began on December 17.

The Roman Catholic Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.

December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:  come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:  come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19

O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people:  come to save us without delay!

December 20

O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:  come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:  come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 22

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:  come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:  come to save us, Lord our God!                   

 —From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

Let us live this week focusing on the hope, love, joy, and peace that the Christ child promises to bring us.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Third Sunday of Advent/Our Lady of Guadalupe


“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love.” Zephaniah 3: 17

Today, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.   On this Sunday we are called to rejoice.  Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.  In the opening prayer we pray, “O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord's Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

The Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is superseded by the Third Sunday of Advent liturgy. Yet throughout the world celebrations will be held to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.  In many places today commemorates the day when Our Lady of Guadalupe first introduced herself as the Mother of God and the mother of all humanity when she appeared on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico in 1531. An indigenous peasant, Juan Diego, saw a glowing figure on the hill. After she had identified herself to him, Our Lady asked that Juan build her a shrine in that same spot, in order for her to show and share her love and compassion with all those who believe.

Afterwards, Juan Diego visited Juan de Zumárraga, who was Archbishop of what is now Mexico City. Zumárraga dismissed him in disbelief and asked that the future Saint provide proof of his story and proof of the Lady’s identity.

Juan Diego returned to the hill and encountered Our Lady again. The Virgin told him to climb to the top of the hill and pick some flowers to present to the Archbishop.  Although it was winter and nothing should have been in bloom, Juan Diego found an abundance of flowers of a type he had never seen before. The Virgin bundled the flowers into Juan's cloak, known as a tilma. When Juan Diego presented the tilma of exotic flowers to Zumárraga, the flowers fell out and he recognized them as Castilian roses, which are not found in Mexico.  What was even more significant, however, was that the tilma had been miraculously imprinted with a colorful image of the Virgin herself.

This day let us focus our entire lives on God’s love for us and all of Creation. God so loved the world that he sent His son into the world to give us new hope, new joy, and the promise of God giving us a second chance. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Second Sunday of Advent


In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.  John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  Luke 3:1 - 6

This Sunday’s gospel tells of how John the Baptist’s message is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.  “Prepare the way of the Lord!” John the Baptist is presented as one who helps to prepare the way for the Lord.  This Sunday’s scriptures remind us that Jesus enters into our human history following a line of holy men and women who looked forward to God’s promise that baptizes us into a changed life. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

Every time I hear this gospel, I think about a song I first learned in college.  We sang it every Advent.  The song is Every Valley.

Refrain: Ev’ry valley shall be exalted and ev’ry hill made low.  And all God’s people shall see together the glory of the Lord.

A voice cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.  Make straight in the desert a highway, a highway for our God.”

Comfort all my people. The time for war is gone. The blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the lame shall leap for joy.

Stand upon the mountain top.  O lift your voice to the world.  Sing joyfully, Jerusalem:

“Behold, behold your God.”

Text: Based on Isaiah 40:1, 3, 4, 9. Text and music © 1970, Robert J. Dufford, S.J

Advent reminds us that we matter to God.  God will never abandon us.  God constantly invites us to be his people.  Often, we get caught up in doing things our way and not following God’s way.  We fill our days with different things and need to keep seeking God’s will in our lives.  Advent offers us an opportunity to witness and proclaim God’s love for us all. May we live this Advent season in hope and love.