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,
Father Steven Clemence