Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family today, I would like to invite you to reflect on family values. Often we think about parents and children, but grandparents are also part of our families. I read the other day a homily from Pope Francis back in 2013, which he “denounced a cultural tendency to discard the elderly because they are a bother.” Here is the summary of the homily.
Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a table and set it off to the side of the dining room so the grandfather could eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing and asked “What are you making?” “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter -in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added.
I would also add that there is an element of gratefulness for what they did for us and our parents. They generously opened themselves to life giving birth and raising our parents. They also watched, helped and prayed for us as we were being raised as well.
When I watch the elderly taking care of their grandchildren, it’s the most beautiful sight. They are happy to change diapers, bring them to the mall, amusement parks, calling on birthdays, and anything else that would bring a smile to those little faces. As our grandparents grow older, the least we could do is the same. Visit them, take them out for a ride, help them, talk to them, (clean them), love them, pray for them, and do anything else that would bring a smile to their faces.
Finally, remember that when we fail to do what is right in front of God, we cannot complain if our children or family turn out to be disobedient to God and to us. I read a reflection that “the young learn more from example than from precept. If parents give their children the example of a life of obedience to the laws of God and their country, the children will in turn carry out their duties to God, to their parents and to their fellowman.
Let’s ask God through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Saints Joaquin and Ann, that we may always be good children of God, but loving him and our neighbors as he loved us.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish this letter to be the Christmas card to all of you, especially for those who did not receive any cards, who are alone tonight, or away from family and friends.
“And so, this is Christmas!” After four weeks preparing ourselves during Advent, we welcome into our hearts, the Child Jesus who is born for us. In order to celebrate Christmas, it is necessary to have faith, otherwise it will be like any other holiday.
Christmas is the greatest time of adoration, in which the divine (angels) and the human (Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds), heaven and earth, come together to contemplate the birth of our Savior. In this silent night, as the Prophet Isaiah says “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)
Let us celebrate Christmas with holiness, having in our hearts that which is essential, namely, love, friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation. As we celebrate it with our families and friends, let’s not forget HIM in our prayers and in our hearts. He is the main focus of this day/season. Indeed, he is the focus of our lives, the light that shines in our darkness.
As we exchange gifts these days, keep in mind the words of pope Benedict XVI at the midnight mass in 2006, “Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God.” Regardless if the gift is expensive or cheap, whoever cannot give a little bit of himself with the gift, always gives little. And if someone does not receive any gifts, remember that in this Holy Night, we can receive the greatest gift ever, God, himself is given to us! God takes our humanity, so that He can give us His divinity!
I pray that the Child Jesus may find the doors of our hearts opened to receive Him, so that we can glorify and praise God for all we have heard and seen.
On behalf of our priests, staff and IC parish and school community we wish you and your family MERRY CHRISTMAS, FELIZ NAVIDAD, FELIZ NATAL, JOYEUX NOËL.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with great JOY that we celebrate the third week of Advent. Before anyone says that the priest is wearing pink, the color is ROSE!!!! Traditionally, in the Church, the third Sunday of Advent is called the GAUDETE SUNDAY. Gaudete, the Latin for Rejoice, was the first word sung in the introit of the Mass. The Joy of Christ who already came and is with us is the focus of this Sunday. This also marks a shift of attention during Advent. Advent can be divided into 2 parts. The first part is the awareness and the call to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. The second part, we recall the first coming of Christ, promised and prophesized in the Old Testament. The second part is also known as the Novena for Christmas, since it starts on December16th. In some countries, there are beautiful traditions of the faithful during these nine days before Christmas, such as Novenas for the Child Jesus. In Latin America, especially in Mexico, they have the Posadas, which the people remember when Mary was looking for lodging for the birth of Jesus. Usually it is done in the houses, but here in the parish we will do them at Meehan Hall every day at 7:00pm, starting on Monday December 16th. Although it’s in Spanish, all are welcome.
We ourselves should also make preparations for the celebration of the Birth of Christ. There are signs and symbols of our faith that symbolize the expectation and the coming of Christ. We have the Advent Wreath, with the candles, that symbolizes the expectation of His birth. The evergreens adornments symbolizes that Christ is our life, and he never dies, like the greens, even in the midst of the death of all nature (winter). The Christmas Tree has a beautiful story how it originated with St. Boniface in Germany around the year 720. We also have the tradition of the nativity scene that was spread with St. Francis (Remember that Jesus is not there until Christmas and the Kings only arrive on January 6 th!!!!). I invite you all to prepare yourselves and your houses for the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.
There are some big news that I would like to share with you: WE WILL CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN THE UPPER CHURCH!!!! The works are well advanced, with the final details getting done this week. The sacristy looks beautiful, the flooring is coming along, the new lights are amazing. Only the pews will not be ready on time. Instead, we will rent chairs until they get installed. Thank you for all your prayers and the help of many volunteers that made it possible!!!
Also, Cardinal Sean O’Malley is coming to Marlboro to visit us!!! The Cardinal will be coming on January 11th for the 4:30pm Mass to pray with us and install me as the pastor. Personally, he has shown great support to our Parish during this last year. On the morning after the fire, he called us to inquire about the damage in the Church, assured us of his prayers, and made himself available if we needed his help. He also asked me often how the Church was coming along. He along with, Bishop Reed, and the archdiocese were extremely helpful to us during the process of the restoration and accommodating our needs during the time we did not have the main Church.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we celebrate the Feast of our Patroness, the Immaculate Conception, and the patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe. We often have heard those titles of Mary, but without much familiarity with them.
The Dogma (an irrevocable truth contained in Divine Revelation as the Catechism defines it) of the Immaculate Conception is sometimes confused with Jesus being born without sin. It actually refers to the Blessed Virgin Mother who was conceived (Conception) without sin/original sin (Immaculate). It is fitting, says St. Thomas Aquinas, that the mother of Jesus had to be completely perfect, in order to receive Jesus in her womb. Like her, we ourselves are also called to be perfect in order to receive Jesus in our souls. It is only through the immense love that God has for each of us that we can be transformed, like Mary, in this holy tabernacle to carry Jesus within us. This radical transformation can be intimidating, as we need much help to be Holy as God is Holy, to be courageous to follow the Word of God, to receive the Lord within us, just like Mary. This past Monday, we heard the Gospel from the Roman Centurion that asks Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant (Mt. 8:5-11). As Jesus wants to come at his request, the Centurion replies that he is not worthy that Jesus should enter under his roof. That is what we say at every mass right before communion. But the beauty is that Jesus DOES WANT TO DWELL IN US, in our hearts, mind, and lives, even though we are not yet perfect! As God bestowed many graces to the Blessed Mother (full of Grace), He also wants to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens and on earth (Ephesians 1:3). At the example of the blessed Mother let us not be afraid to become the handmaid of the Lord, and accept all the blessings from God.
Additionally, the Blessed Mother herself also intercedes for us, caring for us, like a mother. When Juan Diego was in a rush to ask a priest to visit his dying uncle, he avoided the place where Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to him, in order to complete his task. Nonetheless, she appeared to him for a second time. After listening to his concern for his uncle, she said, “Listen my little child, let nothing frighten you or disturb you. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? … Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us entrust all our preoccupations, concerns, and worries to her. Let us focus in this time of Advent, to be ready to welcome Christ in our lives through our Blessed Mother, just like Christmas.
On Monday, December 9th our masses for the Immaculate Conception are 7:30am, 9:00am in English, 7:00pm trilingual preceded by a trilingual rosary at 6:00pm. Our Lady of Guadalupe mass will be on Thursday, December 12th at 7:00pm. Please join us.
God bless, Fr. Steven
Father Steven Clemence