Our Advent journey—these precious days of joyful anticipation and preparation—now draws to a close. Throughout the season the liturgy has been calling us to joy and hope. As we begin our Christmas celebrations in the coming hours may we allow our hearts and our minds to be filled with these awesome gifts of God’s love. Joy and hope overcome even the greatest personal fears and distresses we face. But to truly experience these graces we must allow ourselves to more fully celebrate the season. Please don’t let Christmas be a one-day affair! Stretch out your celebrations over the next two weeks—the Twelve Days of Christmas start on December 25, not end! Make an extra effort to attend daily Mass on the days between Christmas and New Years’; these eight days constitute a special period of celebration and rejoicing in the Church called the Octave of Christmas. Share the Christmas story with your children and grandchildren and bring them to the manger. As we experience the joy and hope of Christmas this year we can then be heralds of this glorious good news to our weary and hungry world. Best wishes for a Blessed and peace-filled Christmas!
Welcome to all of our guests and visitors who are with us over the Christmas weekend, especially those who are “back home” celebrating with your loved ones. If you are returning home this week, we wish you a safe journey home; for those who are staying all week, may you enjoy your continued celebrations and we hope to see you next weekend.
A couple of gentle reminders…
If you attend Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent this morning then attend a Christmas Eve Mass this evening, you can receive communion at both Masses, even though they are on the same day, because you are attending two separate celebrations.
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!
During the Octave of Christmas we celebrate the patronal feasts of both of our partner parishes. On Wednesday the Church celebrates the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. John and his brother, James, were the Sons of Zebedee; Jesus nicknamed them the “Sons of Thunder” for their often fiery and zealous reactions during his ministry [Mark 3:17]. Known as the Beloved Disciple for his close relationship with Jesus, John is present at many significant moments in Jesus’ life, most notably at the Last Supper, in the Garden, and at the foot of the Cross.
In addition to the Fourth Gospel, John is also credited with authoring three New Testament epistles that bear his name and the Book of Revelation. He is the only apostle not to be martyred, rather, he lived a very long life (especially by first century standards), dying at Ephesus around the year 100. John’s Gospel is markedly different from the other three evangelists due to its emphasis on Christ’s divinity, which is expressed through symbolic language and poetic form. The eagle is the chosen symbol for John’s Gospel, representing the depth and height to which the human spirit must soar in order to grasp the meaning of John’s texts. [2018 Sourcebook for Sundays, Seasons, and Weekdays, p. 43]
We will celebrate a special Mass on Wednesday evening at 6:00PM at St. John in honor of our patronal feast, with a light cookie reception to follow in the church’s gathering space.