The march of time brings us around, once again, to the beginning of Advent and the start of the Year of Grace 2024. Don’t let this wonderful season, which always seems to pass far too quickly, slip away without making the most of it! Too often we view Advent simply as preparation to celebrate Christ’s first coming on Christmas Day...or, even worse, as the Christmas season itself! But, as our readings remind us today, Advent also calls us to prepare for his second coming at the end of time. Our prayer in this season of preparation should mirror St. Paul’s words in today’s reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, that we be open to grace of God bestowed on us in Christ Jesus, so that we may be kept “firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We do so by heeding the call of John the Baptist to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our hearts and homes. Plan now to avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Advent, perhaps at one of the Regional Penance Services; make an extra effort to attend daily Mass at least once a week, if possible; or spend some extra time in prayer and reflection. If we keep Advent more faithfully we will be able to celebrate Christmas more joyfully.
On Friday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast has its origins in the seventh century, when it was known as the “Conception of Mary by St. Anne”; Pope Clement XI established this solemnity for the universal Church in 1708. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was definitively defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title, is the patroness of the United States, among many other countries, therefore, this feast is always celebrated as a holyday of obligation in our country.
We will observe the same Mass schedule for the partner parishes that we had for All Saints’ Day:
Holy Family St. John
Thursday 6:00PM Friday 8:00AM
Friday 9:00AM 6:00PM
7:00PM Latin Mass
Please note that while the 9:00AM Mass at Holy Family may be understood by some to be a “School Mass”, everyone is welcome to attend. The students from CDT will be attending that Mass and students and school staff will be ministering but it is a parish Mass.
Next Saturday, seven of our young parishioners from Holy Family will be celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the very first time. They are in this year’s sacramental preparation program and will be receiving first Holy Communion in the spring. Please keep these young members of our parish family and their families in your prayers this week as they prepare to take the next step on their journeys of faith.
With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, Advent is as short as it can possibly be. That means our Regional Penance Service schedule begins next week with two services: on Thursday, December 14 at St. James in New Alexandria at 7:00PM and at Holy Family on Saturday, December 16 at 11:00AM; all the priests of our region will be present to hear confessions at these services. All of the scheduled opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Advent are in today’s bulletin; please note that there are no scheduled confessions on the afternoon of December 23.