Today our observance of Advent “turns the corner” as we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice. Back in the days when there was a much greater emphasis placed on penitence during Advent (like Lent), this Sunday was a day to “lighten up” because we were past the halfway point of the season, thus we light the rose candle on the Advent wreath. This day and the Fourth Sunday of Lent—Laetare Sunday—are the only two days on which rose vestments may be worn, as well. We rejoice as Christmas draws near and the Church focuses more directly over these final days of the season on the impending celebration of the Savior’s birth. But as St. Paul reminds the Church at Thessalonica in today’s second reading, we who live in the age of the Church must, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances, give thanks,” that the God of peace may make us perfectly holy and preserved entirely—spirit, soul, and body—for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Since we have already started fielding some queries about this, here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for your celebrations over the Christmas weekend:
Next weekend, December 23-24, we will observe the regular weekend Mass schedule for the Fourth Sunday of Advent..
The celebration of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord begins on Sunday evening, December 24. The Christmas Mass schedule can be found elsewhere in today’s bulletin.
You cannot fulfill two different obligations by attending one Mass, for example, attending a Christmas Vigil Mass on Sunday evening fulfills your Christmas obligation but it does not fulfill your Sunday obligation.
If you attend Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent on Sunday morning then attend a Christmas Eve Mass that evening, you can receive communion at both Masses, even if they are on the same day, because you are attending two separate celebrations.
Monday, January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is typically a holyday of obligation, however, when this feast falls on a Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated (lifted). For those who still wish to attend Mass to celebrate the Motherhood of Mary, Mass will be celebrated at 6:00PM on New Year’s Eve at Holy Family and at 10:00AM on New Year’s morning at St. John.
Just a gentle reminder that the first collection at all Christmas Masses will be for your Christmas gift to our parish. Your continued and increased generosity at this special time of year will help us keep our parish’s financial affairs in order. The second collection is for the Children & Family Services Appeal. This collection is forwarded to our diocesan Catholic Charities to provide for those in need all year long. Each of us is called to be a leader in the effort to affirm the dignity of all human life. This affirmation begins at conception and continues until the end of natural life. Aiding our brothers and sisters in their struggle for social and economic justice is an ongoing pro-life commitment each of us makes as we follow the gospel message of Jesus Christ. May we be generous as God is generous with us!
Three more Regional Penance Services are scheduled this week: Tuesday at St. Martin in New Derry, Wednesday at St. Bartholomew in Crabtree, and Thursday at St. Rose; each service begins at 7:00PM. All the priests of our region will be present to hear confessions at these services. Please note that because of the extremely busy and condensed schedule on Christmas weekend, there are no confessions scheduled at either parish next weekend. The last scheduled opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas will be at the Regional Penance Service at St. Rose on December 21.
Finally, a little Catholic trivia to astound your friends and family this week...We are all very familiar with the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. But did you know that the verses of this popular hymn are derived from the Magnificat antiphons for Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17-23? These “O Antiphons” were originally composed in the ninth century; in them, Christ is addressed by various titles, O Wisdom, O Lord of might, O Rod of Jesse’s Stem, etc. In Latin the first letter of each title—-Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, etc.—forms a reverse acrostic (each letter arranged in reverse order creates another word), spelling the Latin words ero cras (I will be there tomorrow). The hymn, as we sing it today, is an adaptation written by Victorian poet and translator John M. Neale [2011 Sourcebook for Sundays, Seasons, and Weekdays, p. 4].