Sunday, December 31, 2023

Feast of the Holy Family


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  This Feast is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas.  The Feast of the Holy Family is a rather tender remembrance.  Mary, Joseph, and Jesus did not have an easy life.  In many ways they were refugees trying to make ends meet.  They embraced significant difficulties and had more than their share of life’s struggles. Like them, we too, have family struggles.

Pope Francis wrote, “God has saved us by living among us. He lived in a family, an everyday life. He did not avoid difficulties, but rather chose a family “experienced in suffering,” as if to tell our families: “You are not alone!” 

Our loving, compassionate, God promises to always be present to us.  As we go through life there are times when this is very real and other times when it seems impossible.  God’s presence is not seen it is felt with one’s heart.  We are called to believe with he eyes of faith.  Much like Simeon, we are called to testify to Christ alive among us.  On this last day of 2023 let us take time to look back and reflect on the past years through the eyes of faith.  I am sure God’s presence will be full of many surprises.  May 2024 be filled with many blessings and much happiness, peace, and love for all.

Sunday, December 24, 2023


“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

 On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the familiar story of the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel.  This message comes from an angel, and its words are not only for Mary, but for each of us to whom the angel speaks today through the Gospel.  St. Gabriel’s message tells us about a plan:  a plan God has for Mary’s life, and a plan that God has for the life of each one of us.  The purpose of this gospel passage is to show us how to accept in our lives this plan that God has for us.  The way that the gospel shows us to accept this plan is to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We need to say “yes” to God’s plan for us.  Advent is that season when we anticipate the coming of Christ.  We cannot come to savor the joy of Christmas without living out the humility of Advent.  Advent is a season of humble expectation.

This year Advent is particularly short and ends on the 4th Sunday.  Christmas Eve begins with the Vigil Liturgy at 4pm.  I have many fond memories of Christmas Eve dinner at my aunt’s house.  She made the traditional Italian seven fishes but always had something for those of us who did not eat fish.  I remember the endless antipasto platters that were on the table and the linguini without clam sauce that was part of the tradition.  The meal always concluded with pastries and a Yule Log.

May these days be filled with anticipation, love and the profound “yes” of Mary.  May we follow her example and proclaim, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Gaudete Sunday


Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!

I have always loved the third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday.  It is the Sunday when we light the pink candle.  We hear the story of John the Baptist, a witness to Christ.  He knew Jesus and revealed what he knew of him.  We are invited this day to continue the journey of getting to know Jesus.  It is the day when we are invited to let joy fill our hearts as we prepare once again for the coming of Christ into our hearts.

On Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Christmas show of a friend’s school.  This school is for students with special learning issues.  It was a truly profound experience of joy for me.  Each student performed with their whole heart, mind and entire being.  My heart was filled with joy watching these young people sing, dance, and perform the Nativity of the Lord.  The entire room was filled with excitement as the show began. Each level presented two songs, were involved in the choir, and the older students presented the story of that night long, long ago when Jesus was born in a stable.  There were shepherds, kings, angels, joining Mary, Joseph, and the baby (a doll) on the stage. The students performed with reverence, respect, and were filled with joy.

Friday night truly began a sense of Christmas spirit for me.  Watching these young people filled me with a tremendous sense of joy and anticipation.  I felt that the show touched my heart in a very special way. Perhaps it was the fact that I was in the front row in a reserved seat or that I was asked to take pictures of the performance that enabled me to feel totally absorbed in the show.  I took about 150 pictures trying to capture the experience for the principal.  May shows like this and other Christmas classics carry us through this season with hope, faith, and joy!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Second Sunday of Advent

Today we continue the journey as we mark the Second Sunday of Advent. Every year on the second Sunday of Advent, the Church has us ponder the words and deeds of Saint John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord.  The Advent season is an invitation to refocus your mind away from the stresses of the year. We can take our focus off of the crazy hustle of the season and the sadness that could accompany the different ways some of us may be choosing to observe the holiday season this year. Even when things feel chaotic we can find peace in Jesus. Advent is a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.  As we begin this second week of Advent let us take on the attitude of Advent as we pray:

"Loving God, prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth joyfully! We thank you for faithfully doing what you promised long ago when you sent your Son to earth so that we might have the chance to become part of your family. Let the promise of your second coming inspire us to live with hope and purpose. 

As we wait for your plan to unfold, give us the patience we need. Remind us of the peace we can access when we take time to still ourselves before you and remember that you are God. We thank you that you are both sovereign and gracious.

Help us to find rest in the midst of what feels like chaos in our world'. Amen.

During this season of hope and promise let us be patient with ourselves, our God, one another.  

Sunday, December 3, 2023

First Sunday of Advent


Just as I was about to write the blog for the first Sunday of Advent, Sr. Jeannie sent me this acrostic.  What a wonderful gift as we begin this Advent Season.

A time to stop

Dreaming of what will be in the future

Very much now to be in the now

Emergence of something new

Nodding acceptance of reality

To allow God to be present in us

In our readings from this first Sunday, we focus on our ultimate goal of entering the Kingdom of God.  The image of God as a potter forming us, shaping us into who we are called to be.  I love the image of God molding us into the people we are. God is called to be tender and love us into life if we are willing to listen. In Mark’s Gospel, he speaks of disasters that can happen.  While Jesus’ message is stay alert and be ready.  Be who we are called to be. Jesus calls us to be active, to be excited, not passive.

This is really what Advent is all about, to be ready and full of hope. Time is moving by so quickly; we need to be sure to take time to allow God to be present to us.  Advent is very short this year, just twenty-two days.  There is much to do and much to reflect on.  So many resources are available this year to help guide us through the Advent season.

Community Works, Inc is one of many resources available to help guide you through the Advent journey. May these days of Advent be filled with much hope, peace, joy, and love for our world.