Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Often my thoughts go along with some famous tunes. This time of the year I couldn’t decide to go with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” or “It’s the final Countdown.” As indeed it is a great time, this week is also the final preparation for Christmas. As the lights go up, the nativity scene is put together (without baby Jesus and no 3 kings yet, please), the last-minute shopping goes around, and the other details get taken care of, it is also important to prepare our souls for Christmas.
This weekend we start the novena of Christmas and everything in our liturgy is geared towards it. Christmas is not Jesus' birthday or some kind thing that He did 2,000 years ago. It is rather the fulfillment of God’s plan of Salvation for us. We have outward signs that help us remember how it happened, the life of Christ that never fades like the evergreen that we have all around, the get together with family and friends which is only possible by the love that God bestows in our hearts. Inwardly, we can also prepare our souls for this special moment, so that Jesus can be born also in our hearts. Confession, daily rosaries, movies or documentaries, reading the Gospel of the day or the Gospel passages about the birth of Jesus, Jesse Tree, and so on. This year we will have the grace to host the Seminarians’ Christmas Concert on Thursday December 22nd at 7:30pm. I don’t know this year’s repertoire, but I’m sure that they will sing the traditional Carols, some songs from different cultures in different languages, and they always have something special for the children. So, do bring them along with your family and friends.
One other way for us to be prepared to celebrate Christmas, is also to think of other people. Not everyone will be happy, joyful this year. Some people will be separated from their loved ones for one reason or another. Just think about those in the military. After 22 years, this will be the first time that my brother and I will be together with my parents for Christmas. I’m sure that there are many other parents and children that will go for a longer period of time. Other people will not be able to be with their loved one, because they passed away. This is even more challenging for the families who will be celebrating their first Christmas without their parents, son or daughter, brother or sister, grandparent, best friend and so on. Still others are sick, suffering from other illnesses or tribulations, or struggling with addiction. I would like to invite you all to take some time this week to say a special prayer for all of them. Only when we are in their shoes can we understand how hard it can be this time of the year.
On a distinct, but not on a separate note, I suppose we still read the news about what is going on in Ukraine. Not only the war, the separation, and other hardships that we have heard now for almost a year, but now with the latest Russian attacks on the Ukrainian infrastructure, they must be tormented by all sorts of issues. Whether the lack of heating, electricity, or food, I suppose that the hardest part will be to go through this time of Christmas under these circumstances. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do, but the little that we can do, I would like to do it. The first Collection of Christmas will be all for the retired priests from the Archdiocese of Boston. I will have a second collection for Ukraine. In case you are celebrating Christmas with your family elsewhere and would like to contribute, you can drop by the office and leave your donation with Lee Ann. Please, do mark clearly your contribution for Ukraine so that we do not send it to the Archdiocese by mistake. As St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta says, “we cannot do great things, but small things with great love.” Please do consider helping these brothers and sisters who not only will not have any gifts this year, but they might not be able to celebrate Christmas at all. Let’s also pray that Jesus who comes to bring “peace to people of good will” be able to help end this war.
In case we don’t see each other this week, on behalf of all the staff, the people of the parish and Fr. Kevin, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Holy Christmas. Please do count on our daily prayers for each and every one of you.
Father Steven Clemence