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
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know it’s only the first week of December, but in the liturgical calendar of the Church, we begin a new year. During this new year, we shall listen to the Gospel of Matthew (we just finished listening to Luke). We begin the new year with Advent, which helps us to be vigilant in expectation to the coming of Christ. He first came as a baby 2000 years ago, as we shall celebrate it in Christmas, but He will also come again in Glory. In order to help us to be in expectation, I would like to share with you a message from Pope Benedict on the first Sunday of Advent in 2010.
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a new journey of faith that on the one hand commemorates the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens to its ultimate fulfilment. It is precisely in this double perspective that she lives the Season of Advent, looking both to the first coming of the Son of God, when he was born of the Virgin Mary, and to his glorious return, when he will come “to judge the living and the dead”, as we say in the Creed. I would now like to focus briefly on this evocative theme of “waiting”, for it touches upon a profoundly human aspect in which the faith becomes, so to speak, completely one with our flesh and our heart.
Expectation or waiting is a dimension that flows through our whole personal, family and social existence. Expectation is present in thousands of situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important that involve us completely and in our depths. Among these, let us think of waiting for a child, on the part of a husband and wife; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; let us think, for a young person, of waiting to know his results in a crucially important examination or of the outcome of a job interview; in emotional relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved, of waiting for the answer to a letter, or for the acceptance of forgiveness.... One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. And from his expectations man recognizes himself: our moral and spiritual “stature” can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.
Every one of us, therefore, especially in this Season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations, what brings them together? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel – that is, the expectation of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and find the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of a righteous man, Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, and yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. Moreover, God himself had prepared her before time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature “full of grace”, totally transparent to the loving plan of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent, how to live our daily actions with a new spirit, with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfil.
Speaking of the Virgin Mary, I would like to invite everyone to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Not only is it a solemnity of our Blessed Mother, but it is also our PARISH FEAST! It is very important that we celebrate our Patroness TOGETHER! Since December 8th falls on Sunday this year, the feast was moved to Monday, December 9th. Although this year, because of the change of date, it is not a holy day of obligation, it is a special moment to come together as a parish to honor our Blessed Mother. We will do a trilingual mass at 7:00pm on Monday. The mass will be preceded by a trilingual rosary at 6:00pm. For those who cannot attend the evening festivities, we will have our regular 7:30am Mass and the IC School Students will also celebrate our feast day with a 9:00am Mass. See you then!
God bless and Happy Advent,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When I first arrived in the US, back in 2005, I was somewhat familiar with the celebration of Thanksgiving. My knowledge, however, was limited to what I had seen in the movies. I knew about food, the family gathering, and that it was a big deal. At my first thanksgiving here, I was surprised to the whole dimension of THANKS-GIVING. In other words, the whole aspect of giving THANKS was amazingly awesome to witness. Before the meal, the family that hosted me shared a time that they were thankful for. Their reasons were beautiful and inspiring.
The concept of giving thanks should be very familiar for us Catholics as well. We do that every Sunday when we come to mass. The original word for mass comes from the Greek Eucharist (like eucharistic ministers and eucharistic prayer), which means, THANKSGIVING. This particular action, even though it “lacks” stuffing, cranberries, turkey, and other thanksgiving dinner favorites, it does lead to our salvation. When the priest invites the congregation to “GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD”, we respond, “it is RIGHT AND JUST.” Then he continues, “it is truly right and just, our DUTY AND OUR SALVATION, always and everywhere to GIVE YOU THANKS, LORD…”.
At this time, personally, and on behalf of the priests and the whole parish, I would like to GIVE THANKS to God for everything that he has done, is doing and will continue to do. But it is also RIGHT AND JUST, MY DUTY (and salvation), always and everywhere to THANK YOU, PEOPLE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION COMMUNITY. It would be unfair to name a single person who has helped me, because there are so many who did, and there are still others that I might not be aware of. Without your support, your kindness, your smiles, your words of encouragement, and your prayers, we would not be able to go through this year. The efforts of so many volunteers and staff, that day after day, contribute with their time and talent to the growth of our community. A special word also to the different committees, councils that help our IC community to flourish through their advice and hard work. All those who are engaged in the work of our school, who constantly share God’s love with our students and their families. We must thank also the many groups and ministries of our parish, who help us with the work of the sanctification of our parish. I would also like to add a special thank you to those who continue to financially support our school, our parish offertory, the special collections and particularly those who contributed to the fire restoration. All these donations are deeply appreciated. In short, THANK YOU!
Please read the message below from Evelyn Walton, from Birthright, who also wants to thank you.
As in past years the parishioners of Immaculate Conception have showered our local Hudson/Marlborough Birthright with generous donations to support their ministry of helping pregnant mothers in need. In addition to $855.00 in monetary donations we received abundant diapers, blankets, onesies, sleep and play outfits, snowsuits, crib blankets, bath necessities, diaper bags as well as lovingly-handmade sweaters and blankets! Your generous support enables Birthright to be a valuable community resource for pregnant mothers by offering pregnancy tests, material and emotional support, referrals for housing, furniture, medical care and other services a pregnant mother may need as she chooses life for her precious unborn baby. Because Birthright is an all volunteer organization every donation directly benefits these mothers and their babies. May God bless each of you for your generous response in reaching out to pregnant mothers and their babies with love, hope, and a helping hand!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you all who stopped by the 24-hour adoration! It was a great blessing to our parish.
Onto our next adventure then! MARCH FOR LIFE in DC!!! We are looking into the best way for us to go to and from DC and we are looking into different ways of joining this pilgrimage. We will leave on Thursday evening, January 23rd. In the morning we will attend a mass that Cardinal Sean celebrates with all the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston, we will participate in the rally, and then we will return home on Friday, January 24th. We anticipate the cost to be about $100.00 per person. More information will be forthcoming. Please read the story below from Massachusetts Citizen For Life.
I don’t remember a lot about being seven, but I remember Alex. He was a German exchange student who lived with us after my brother returned from his stay with Alex’s family in what was then West Germany. I remember Alex pointing to the eastward horizon from our backyard one day, trying to help me fathom where his home was, and squinting in my attempt to actually see this mysterious land with very tall people whose words sounded so different.
I remember Alex telling me a story about a high wall that went on for miles, sliced the land in two, and trapped people on one side. I recall being frightened not only by the notion itself but by Alex’s tone; the way he described the wall sounded a lot like his description of German food or the Autobahn: it was just an accepted part of the culture. A few years later, like you when you saw the impossible — the Berlin Wall suddenly toppling one night on TV, hoards of elated people atop it, yelling, waving, dancing — I felt a mix of amazement and disbelief. And I wondered, “Which powerful person finally brought it down?”
Yesterday, I came across an article in The Wall Street Journal that offers one highly inspirational answer: ordinary people. To be sure, influencers like President Reagan and Saint John Paul II undoubtedly caused the foundation beneath the concrete slabs to waver. Yet, according to the Journal: “ . . . formerly secret documents from the Stasi archive and German government collections, along with interviews, reveal that the sparks that detonated the powder keg the night of Nov. 9, 1989, came from the men and women in the middle: largely unknown officials and average East Germans in history’s path. Their actions—some intentional, some not—produced the chain of events that, wittingly and otherwise, leveled the Berlin Wall that night.”
The article reminded me of how easy it is to become overly dependent career politicians with pro-life voting records or industry leaders with deep pockets and Capitol Hill connections. But, like any human rights battle, ours will be won because of us: the unknown, average citizens who march fearlessly into history’s path.
On Friday, January 24, 2020, hundreds of thousands of “ordinary” people will convene once again in Washington, D.C. for what has become an extraordinary annual testimony. I hope you will join us! Abortion has become a lot like the Berlin Wall. It has divided, trapped, endangered, and killed. Worse, it has become commonplace. But brave leaders have begun to speak out against this evil of our time and call for freedom. The foundations of what our society has come to call “reproductive healthcare” weaken a little each day. Now, it’s up to us, the powerless but just, to topple the wall of lies. I look forward to marching with you in Washington and standing before the Supreme Court to remind our leaders of the purpose and worth to each human life.
Those that are interested, please sign up with your name and your phone number at the back of the Church this weekend or contact Lee Ann. Hopefully we will have one bus on our own, if we manage to have enough people interested. The seats will be reserved on a first come, first served basis.
God bless, Fr. Steven