From Father Steven - December 25th
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!! FELIZ NATAL!!!! JOYEUX NOËL!!!!!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, we never thought that the end of 2020 would ever arrive...maybe our desire to reach the end of the month of December was only to see if we would have our lives back to normal. Even though our lives are not back to normal, on the contrary, we still feel very much the effects of Covid-19, there is a reason for us to rejoice. The celebration of Christmas is more than a simple re- membrance of an event that happened 2000 years ago. What we celebrate this year is that God fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament. That’s very nice, one might say, but how can that help us facing this difficult time? This reassures us that God is not indifferent to our sufferings. He loved us so much, that, for us man and our salvation, Christ became man. Our God knows exactly what is going on in our hearts, better than those around us and he comes to help us! As the prophet Isaiah says, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (9:2).” We feel that we are walking in darkness at this time, and this Christmas comes to have the light of Christ shine upon us to gladden our hearts, to bring us comfort, to relieve the burdens we carry! Psalm 80 says, “Lord, let the light of your face shine upon us and we shall be saved.” Therefore, this light also comes to give us salvation, a new life, Eternal Life. The reason for which God became man was to save man and give man the possibility of becoming God. The celebration of Christmas is intimately connected with Easter, because this baby boy comes to give us his life for us! This is the ultimate proof of love, to lay down one’s life for his friends (Jn 15:13). And if God gives us His life, then He can also help us to deal with our current problems and sufferings. For those who are celebrating away from your loved ones, whether because of Covid or someone's passing, remember that Jesus was not alone at the time of his birth. We hear in the Gospels that there were angels singing giving Glory to God! Remember that these same angels also accompany you! For us Christians, we are never alone! I conclude this letter with the words from the Angels to the shep- herds, “DO NOT BE AFRAID; for behold, I PROCLAIM TO YOU GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY that will be for all the people. For TODAY in the city of David A SAVIOR HAS BEEN BORN FOR YOU who is Christ and Lord”
On behalf of your Priests, the IC Parish Staff and Parish Community, we wish you a Holy Christmas to you and your loved ones.
From Father Steven - December 20th
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we approach our Christmas celebration, I would like to say a word about how our Christmas celebration will be done this year. After a long period of reflection and talking to other priests from different parts of the state and the country to see how they are planning to do their masses, we have seen the need to open our doors to whoever wants to come. There are many people struggling in many different ways. Maybe one of them wants to come (back) to church to receive a word of consolation, encouragement, in sum, a word of salvation. Many saints converted from their old lives by listening to 1 word...and some of them were not even inside the church! At every Mass, we always say, “Lord, I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but ONLY SAY THE WORD and my soul shall be healed.” So we see the need to try to bring as many people as we can to mass. We also want to provide a safe environment, so that everyone who comes may feel comfortable. With that said, I would like to point out what we will do for the masses.
3:00pm Mass Upper Church and in the Chapel (Lower Church).
There will be ushers who will be seating people in a way to maximize the space allowing more people to sit socially distant. Once we reach full capacity both up and downstairs, whoever comes later will be invited to the parking lot mass starting at 3:30pm. The parking lot mass will serve as the overflow from both masses. THESE MASSES WILL BE BROADCASTED ONLY AS WELL.
6:00pm Mass Upper Church and in the Chapel (Lower Church).
There will be ushers at both masses seating people in the pews as well.
12:00am Midnight mass
Traditionally, there are not many people that attend this mass. There should not be a problem of accommo- dating everyone.
For both the 6:00pm and the 12:00am, If there is a need, we will direct the overflow of people to an assigned place, such as Meehan Hall or the lower church, and there people can watch the mass online and receive communion at the end. The same applies for the 7:30am and the 10:00am masses on the 25
For this to work, we will need volunteers at all masses to help us seat everyone as they come to mass. If anyone would like to help, please call the office. The ushers will have a reserved seat for themselves during mass.
Lastly, we ask everyone to please ARRIVE EARLY so that we can arrange seating the best possible way.
God bless and I will forward celebrating Christmas with you and your loved ones! Fr. Steven
From Father Steven - December 13th
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we are all called to REJOICE! Our Salvation is near at hand!!! In this third Sunday of Advent, which is called Gaudete Sunday, the Church reminds us that the Savior is really coming. We need to make sure that we are ready to receive him with joy. Every day the Christians begin their day praying the “Office of Readings” or “Morning Prayer”, with invitatory Psalm, which is the first psalm read, invites us to come to the Lord rejoicing. Psalm 95 says “Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving and SING JOYFUL SONGS to the Lord. Psalm 100 invites us to “Serve the Lord with gladness. [To] come before him, SINGING FOR JOY.” Some of the Christmas Carols also invites us to be joyful, as we hear, “REJOICE! REJOICE! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel” or “JOY TO THE WORLD, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King, Let every heart pre- pare Him room.”
Even though we are struggling and going through difficult times, the Lord comes to console and strengthen us so we can persevere through the challenging times. This year some of us will not be able to visit our families and our gatherings will be smaller than normal, but the Lord is coming to us!
As we gear up our preparation for the second coming of the Lord with joy, we also start making the preparation of the celebration of his first coming as a child in Bethlehem. On Wednesday, we begin the NOVENA FOR CHRISTMAS. So it’s time to start setting up all the Christmas decorations with the nativity scene (The kings are not there yet!), Christmas tree, etc. As a parish, we will be gath- ering on Sunday December 20th (snow date December 21st) at 6:30pm the parking lot for a beauti- ful CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION WITH SONGS AND MUCH MORE!!! We will be posting more online very soon about this breathtaking event.
Finally, below is the schedule for our Christmas. We will be doing two masses at 3:00pm and once the church is filled to its capacity, the overflow will be invited to attend the parking lot mass which will start at 3:30pm. ALL ARE WELCOME to the celebrations of the birth of our Savior! See you then.
God bless, Fr Steven
From Father Steven - December 6th
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
HAPPY FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION!!!! THE FEAST OF OUR PARISH!!!!
I’m very sorry that this year we will not be able to celebrate our parish feast all together. Due to the limita- tions of Covid, we will need to have separate masses in order to accommodate more people at Church. That does not prevent us from being united in prayer! I invite each of you to do something special to mark the feast day of the patroness of our parish, whether a rosary among your family praying for the parish, spend 20 minutes or so in front of the blessed sacrament, order/cook a special meal. For each of those masses we celebrate, we will be praying for the intentions of the parish.
Although during advent we don’t sing/recite the Glory during Sunday Masses, to help us yearn and desire to glorify God on the Christmas celebration, we will glorify God on Tuesday, for the gift of the blessed Mother that was given to us. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is the celebration of the Concep- tion of Mary without original sin. The title of Immaculate Conception could mislead a person thinking that we celebrate the conception of Jesus, but that one is celebrated March 25th on the feast of the Annunciation (“The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary, and she Conceived [Jesus] by the Holy Spirit”). This weekend, I would like to reflect about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Most of the details about the event of the conception of Mary and some other stories that we know (like the name of the Wise Men) are not found in the Bible, but in books that have collected the oral tradition of the Church. Those books are called “protevangelium.” The information concerning the birth of Mary can be found in the Protevangelium of James and Evangelium de Nativitate Mariae. According to these sources, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Ann, were old and were not able to have children. Inspired by the stories of the Scripture of Abraham and Hannah, they never gave up trusting in God that if it was his will, he would have mercy on them and grant them the privilege of having a child, even in their old age. As they were waiting for that day to arrive, they focused on growing in holiness as a couple. Different accounts explain the reason for which Joachim left the temple, but they all agree that he went to the wilderness to pray. There an Angel ap- peared to him to announce that he would have a child. Ann also had an apparition of an Angel. After that, the two of them ran towards each other full of joy that God had not forgotten them. As they met, they em- braced each other with love beyond all telling. Some traditions say that Mary was conceived at that moment, out of pure love, therefore not inheriting Original Sin. We don’t know exactly what happened at that moment, but as many icons portray, that embrace of Joachim and Ann represents the pure embrace of the spouses, that God makes holy by the graces at work in marriage. To the naked eye, maybe that action seemed to be something ordinary, like our daily actions in marriage, but behind it carries graces from God capable of changing the world.
There is much more that can be said about how Mary was conceived without Original Sin, but what is im- portant to us is that God had planned that before the creation of the World. He had chosen Joachim and Ann to be the parents of Mary, whose womb would carry our Savior Jesus Christ. This, brothers and sisters, also speaks to us. God has chosen us. God has chosen you and I to reveal himself to us! Everything is part of his divine plan of salvation. Surely it may seem at times that “it does not make sense”, or there are things “wrong”, such as Joachim and Ann not being able to have children. But have faith!!! There are many stories in the bible that proves that God provides! He allows certain things to happen to us in order to reveal his glo- ry. Imagine if Joachim and Ann already had 10 children and Mary was one of them. That would be nice, but God always reveals his glory in a majestic way. He does so in order to dispel any shred of doubt that it may be in our hearts. Therefore, I encourage you, when you face some difficulties or trials, to pray to the Lord. Ask him to help you see your life as he sees, to understand his paths, so that we can say to all those around us, GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME, and ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!
Let us, this week, ask our Blessed Mother, immaculate in body and spirit look kindly on us as we implore her powerful intercession. May our Most Holy Mother receive our prayers as we present them to God. May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, intercede for us with her Son. May the Holy Virgin, conceived with- out sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen
God bless, Fr. Steven
Father Steven Clemence