Dear Parishioners:Advent moves quickly if you don’t stop to truly prepare the way of the Lord.  The hectic pace of our world and the speed with which our culture celebrates Christmas can distract us from truly preparing with prayer and patience.   So try this week to take a break from “the holiday” preparations like shopping, card writing and decorating and instead spend some time in prayer, coming to Daily Mass, praying the Rosary or reading the powerful scriptures of the Advent Season. It’s Advent catch the spirit while you still can!

Of course one of the hallmarks of this joyful season is giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.  This weekend our OLM Youth Group is collecting toiletry items for McAuley House after all Masses.  These simple items for personal care are greatly needed by those who can little afford them but have great need for them.  I am grateful to the Youth Group for coordinating this great effort to reach out to the needy in this season.

Many people have commented on the new look of the bulletin.  Yes, if you haven’t noticed it has changed in appearance and in size.  It is now fully color and has more pages.  I hope this change will enhance its use for the parish as not only a means of finding information but also as a catechetical tool.  In this Year of Faith, I hope to use the bulletin as a resource to deepen our knowledge and enliven our understanding of the faith.

You will notice a new column called appropriately enough, “The Catechism Corner.”  This will be a weekly column dedicated to a particular topic of our faith.  Each column will offer some insight and understanding on some aspect of the Catholic Faith and provide a reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for further study.  I hope every family and household owns a copy of the Catechism as it is a valuable reference tool and important way to learn more about our Catholic Faith.  As the column reminds us each week, check it out in the Catechism!

I hope you like the new hymnals that arrived last week. I thank Brother Roger for his leadership in choosing the hymnal and coordinating the order.   It isn’t easy to do as there are all kinds of hymnals to choose from and each offers something useful.  The Worship Hymnal is the updated version of the one that has long been used at Our Lady of Mercy so it should prove to be an easy transition.

You will notice listed in the inside cover  are  the revised translation of the Mass parts.  This will replace the use of the large cards that were placed in the pews last December.  It also contains the Order of Mass and the readings of each Sunday.  We are currently in Cycle C of the readings and you can find them located toward the back of the hymnal.  While no hymnal is perfect nor does every hymnal contain all the desired hymns we might wish, this Fourth Edition of the Worship Hymnal  provides what we need for our worship at OLM.

Speaking of hymns, please take note  that next Sunday at 5:00pm our Adult and Children’s Choirs along with the Handbell Choir are having a Service of Advent Lessons and Carols. They have been practicing hard and it should be a delightful celebration of song and scripture. Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century. In this service, we listen to  Scripture lessons which recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the  Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News. Each lesson is followed by a carol or other song that reflects on the lesson's message.  Not only will the choirs be singing but there will also be congregational singing.  It is a great way to rejoice in the Advent season.  In the spirit of the season a free-will offering for Bishop Tobin’s Keep the Heat On Fund will be taken up.

So please mark your calendars and be sure to join us. Have you taken the time this Advent to stop, pause and pray?  It’s never too late to patiently prepare for the Lord’s coming.  Remember we are called to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths!”  God Bless.  Have a great week.  Go Pats!