“The Parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action and of hope. They are where the Gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the place where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the church’s life.”
— American Bishop’s Pastoral Letter, 1993
The season of Advent, a period of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, is completed. It’s been a good Advent. We have much to be thankful for. God has inspired us and strengthened us, and we have responded well. Now Christmas is upon us, and it is and will be a good Christmas. We know […]
Rejoice! Today is Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice”. We commemorate it by using a pink candle on our Advent Wreath. It is more, however, than a word. This is the beginning of the ‘second’ season of Advent. We are rejoicing because we know how close Christmas, the Mass of our Savior, has come. The readings this week express the intimacy and nearness of Christ’s presence. Once through the prophets, now through his Son, all God’s promises are made real. I know that many of us have already attended many Christmas parties, but liturgically this week is when the party really begins. Although many trees have already been decorated and many Christmas lights have already been lit, now is the time to fully realize their light. Below is a short prayer you can use to bless a Christmas tree in your home.
Readings for next week: Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24
Reflection: Once upon a time God offered a gift to a king named Ahaz. Ahaz refused the gift. Many years and many generations later, God offered the same gift to a woman named Mary. She accepted and received the gift of God’s own Son. Emmanuel. God is with us. Although the story of Mary may be better known, the story of Ahaz is more commonly repeated through the experiences and choices of our lives. God offers himself to us in many ways. Sometimes we don’t even notice. Sometimes, like Ahaz, we refuse to receive him. Time passes. One Advent is forgotten. Another comes to an end. God continues to offer. May this be the year that our stories truly echo Mary’s story. God is with us. Choose to receive him.
1. Describe a time when you struggled to trust God through a difficult situation.
2. Tell of a time when your prayer led you to change a decision.
Christmas Tree Blessing: Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun and the moon and the stars of night. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law and the prophets and the wisdom of the Scriptures. We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God with us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives us be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord.