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December 17, 2017

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

JMJ

So how are you doing with all of your pondering? Remember, that’s our theme for Advent as we accompany Mary and Joseph on their Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Last week on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we read from Luke’s Gospel about the visit of the angel, Gabriel. As you recall, Mary was troubled by this visit and pondered in her heart what sort of greeting this might be. She would continue to ponder throughout her life. My encouragement to all of us is that we take some quiet time to reflect on the meaning of this season. I believe that God speaks to us in silence but that he requires us to take the initiative, to step out of the noisy world and to retreat into a special place. It could be a prayer room in your own home, or it could be the home of your own heart that you can visit even in the busyness of your life. Ideally however, it would be a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. That means a visit to church. As we know, Jesus is present in the consecrated host and the host is kept in the tabernacle, and in the monstrance, which is exposed in our adoration chapel behind the altar. It is there that many people visit throughout the week for an hour with the Lord, face to face.

I mentioned last week in the announcements that we are always looking for individuals who are prepared to commit to that hour, hopefully on a regular basis; but we also recognize how difficult this can be. At this time of year when many of our regulars are on vacation or in sunnier climates for the winter, maybe this would be a good time to try it. Who knows, maybe God will bless your visit with a special grace that will keep you coming back for more.

This Advent, we have begun a new liturgical year of grace. It’s called, rather simply, Cycle B, and it is part two of a three-year cycle of readings that takes us through much of the Scriptures. In August, we will spend almost the whole month reading from John chapter 6. In case you didn’t know, this is a foundational passage for a proper understanding of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. This is important information for all who want to know the truth. I wish I could say that all Catholics were on board with this central truth of our faith, but the reality is that they aren’t. Studies have shown that many Catholics are really quite naïve about this belief. This is important! What a person believes about the Eucharist significantly influences the course of their lives and the decisions they make every day, such as about how to conduct themselves in this world. And so, be assured that we will spend some serious time this year pondering this great mystery of our faith that Christ has kept His promise that He would never abandon us or forsake us, that He would not leave us orphans, and that He would remain with us all of our days, even to the end of the world.

 

Addenda:

We had a great time at The Polar Express Party last weekend. I really love that movie — so much so that I watched it a second time up in the rectory on Sunday night. Now granted, Jesus doesn’t get any mention in this Christmas movie, but if you watch and listen closely, there are actually many positive Christian values and messages scattered throughout.

It was also fun to play with the trains again. They have been on display in the rectory for quite some time, but this year I’m putting them back in their original boxes and who knows what their future might hold.

I would like to thank several of my staff for assisting me in this little project. Mrs. Blandino, our principal, was very dashing as the conductor. Chuck served as our hot chocolate chef, with a little help from several other “elves”. Dave resurrected his portrayal of that mysterious hobo and our youth ministry was there to play several games with the kids after the movie. We all had a great time. Thanks to all my helpers and to all of our visitors. Remember the message of The Polar Express: Believe!

Christmas is going to be here a little faster than usual because it falls on a Monday. Christmas Eve is next Sunday evening. Yikes. Remember, our prayer task this advent season is to pray for our visitors and guests who will be joining us at Christmas. May God bless their journey here to Holy Spirit Church at Christmas, and may they find a warm welcome. Fr. J

 

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